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A South Carolina lawmaker who made national headlines last year by prominently displaying a racist flyer on his desk is soliciting money for a new political action committee, FITS has learned.

S.C. Rep. Bill Sandifer – who colleagues say reveled in the attention that came from being linked to a flyer depicting African-Americans as lazy – has formed what is known as a “Leadership PAC,” which lawmakers use to shake down additional special interest money from the companies that contribute to their campaigns.

“Leadership PACs” can receive contributions of up to $3,500 per election cycle, while individual candidate committees are limited to $1,000 contributions.

After amassing their stockpiles of special interest money, lawmakers who operate “Leadership PACs” then use that cash to reward colleagues who vote with them on certain issues … and punish those who don’t.

Sandifer’s PAC – the “Palmetto Business Council” – has received just one check since it filed with the State Ethics Commission last month, a $3,500 contribution from Duke Energy Corporation’s State Political Action Committee.

Frankly, we wonder what Duke Energy’s African-American customers think of their power company supporting a guy who keeps material like this laying around his office:

After news of the flyer broke last Spring, Sanfider allegedly told several of his white colleagues that he was “thrilled” by the nationwide attention it received, adding that it would “guarantee” his reelection in the majority-white district he represents.

Sandifer’s PAC was formed on January 22 of this year – a little over a month after House Speaker Bobby Harrell engineered the Seneca, S.C. lawmaker’s ascension to the chairmanship of the powerful House Labor, Commerce and Industry (LCI) Committee.

Harrell, of course, has his own “Leadership PAC,” as does Speaker Pro Tempore Harry Cato and House Ways & Means Chairman Dan Cooper, among others.

In a fund-raising letter for the “Palmetto Business Council” obtained by FITS, Sandifer claims that his organization will provide a “clear, compelling voice in favor of pro-business legislation and ideals.”

That’s funny considering that Sandifer earned an “F” grade on the S.C. Club for Growth’s 2008 fiscal report card, and the previous year, the S.C. Business and Industry Political Education Committee (SCBIPEC) awarded him a 37.96 score (out of 100) for his support of pro-business legislation.

By contrast, S.C. Rep. Nikki Haley – who was yanked off of the LCI committee by Harrell because of her support of transparency in government (and frankly, for the challenge she posed to Sandifer) – received an “A” grade from the Club for Growth and was one of only seven lawmakers last year to earn a perfect “100” score from SCBIPEC.

Funny how the Speaker defines “pro-business leadership,” isn’t it?

Sandifer’s fund-raising letter never specifically identifies his new organization as a political action committee, instead referring to it as a “positive, bipartisan group of leaders.”

Yeah, right.

The letter also invites recipients (and their checkbooks, presumably) to attend a swanky reception for Sandifer’s new PAC at Columbia’s upscale Palmetto Club next week.

As we’ve said all along, “Leadership PACs” are nothing but an excuse for powerful lawmakers to rake in special interest cash which they use to improperly influence their less-influential colleagues.

They are inherently corrupt, and should be outlawed – starting with this one.

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