The South Carolina government office established to protect senior citizens from scams may itself be at the heart of one, according to an explosive report published in yesterday’s (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier.

The Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging – which earned universal praise under its former director Curtis Loftis – has quickly landed into a major scandal under the “leadership” of its new boss, former Secretary of State Jim Miles.

Earlier this year, we pointed out that Miles was “already turning the agency into a status quo home for political hacks … kind of like him,” but we had no idea he would be this obvious about his shady dealings.

According to the Post and Courier‘s report, Miles set up a company called “Senior Shield LLC” earlier this year and promptly received $85,000 in taxpayer dollars to help fund its operations.

And what, pray tell, does the company do?

Well, like some penny-ante version of the indulgences sold by the Catholic Church prior to the Reformation, “Senior Shield” basically sells South Carolina businesses the Office on Aging’s blessing – along with so-called “verification services” which may include publicly-collected data.

Here’s how it works – businesses fork over between $160 and $195 a year to get access to the data as well as a declaration from the Office on Aging that they are “Senior-friendly.”

Talk about a scam.

It’s also pretty obvious from the Post and Courier report that the dim bulbs Lt. Governor André Bauer hired to run this outfit got caught with their pants down …

Since July 29, the Office on Aging has paid $85,142 to Senior Shield, according to financial records obtained from the Comptroller General’s Office through the state Freedom of Information Act.

When first asked about the financial arrangement last week, Adams said the use of state funds was a non-issue because Miles established Senior Shield as a nonprofit organization.

In fact, Miles had registered Senior Shield as a for-profit limited liability corporation, The Post and Courier Watchdog found.

After the newspaper inquired about the discrepancy last week, Miles re-registered Senior Shield as a nonprofit organization with the Secretary of State’s Office.

Miles said Senior Shield was always intended to be a charitable organization but that he mistakenly registered it as a corporation.

Whatever. Of course (as usual) our worthless State Ethics Commission sees absolutely nothing wrong with any of this behavior.

Anyway, Jim Miles was – and is – a disgrace to state government, and the fact that Bauer hired him shows incredibly poor judgment.

Miles is one of those thick-skulled, thick-accented bumpkins who listens to his “Jesus music” real loud going down the highway with Horry County auditor Lois Eargle in the passenger seat making sure everything is on the “up and up.”

Well, provided Jim’s Viagra has kicked in, we’re guessing.

Sure, Miles was South Carolina’s Secretary of State for eight years, but let’s face it, that’s only an accomplishment for people who can alphabetize manila folders.

Seriously, there are West Columbia dental hygienists who could run that office better than the last two bozos we’ve elected to it … which reminds us, we shouldn’t be electing Lt. Governors or Secretaries of State to begin with.

Anyway, props to Ron Menchaca over at the P&C for a great scoop …