The S.C. Senate is refusing to answer questions about a controversial “switcheroo” of its official record that resulted in a State Senator’s vote being secretly changed from “aye” to “nay” after the fact.
A vote by freshman Sen. Shane Martin (R-Spartanburg) on a key amendment to the state budget was switched in the official Senate Journal after a FITS story last week highlighted Martin’s inconsistency on the issue.
Since then, we’ve learned that there is no permanent, printed record of legislative actions anymore, and according to one lawmaker who spoke with us on condition of anonymity, “(changing votes) happens all the time” at the S.C. State House.
In light of these developments, FITS is attempting to uncover answers to the following three questions …
1- Who secretly switched a Senator’s vote in the Senate Journal dated April 29, 2009?
2- At whose request was the switch made?
3- Why wasn’t established procedure followed for changing a vote (i.e. the Senator makes a “unanimous consent” request of his colleagues, which then goes into the journal as part of the public record).
Senate Clerk Jeffrey Gossett – who is responsible for maintaining the Journal – did not respond to FITS when we posed these questions to him yesterday.
While the most obvious explanation would be that Gossett switched the Journal at Senator Martin’s request, two highly-placed sources in the State Senate have laid the blame for the “switcheroo” on Wesley Donehue, a Senate staffer who works for Majority Leader Harvey Peeler.
Donehue – who is no stranger to being scapegoated – vigorously denied that charge.
“The first time I heard about it was on (FITS),” Donehue told us.
Frankly, we believe him.
With the Senate Republican Caucus badly-fractured and numerous political operatives constantly working angles against each other, we have no doubt that the “blame game” in this instance will find fingers pointed in all directions.
Stay tuned …