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We remain of the opinion that laziness was what caused La Socialista (a.k.a. The State newspaper) to originally drop the ball in investigating the story of S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford’s affair with his Argentine lover, Maria Belen Chapur.

You’ll recall that the paper was provided with exclusive documentation of Sanford’s affair six months before the story ultimately broke – and chose to sit on that information. Bad move? Probably, but The State at least managed to stay on the leading edge of the scandal once it did break – and its reporters have followed the story vigorously for weeks now.

Too vigorously, some say.

It appears now, though, that the steamy Sanford emails weren’t the only newsworthy items La Socialista wasn’t moving on … and this time the cost to the taxpayers is a lot more than $3,000 in refunded “executive travel” to Argentina.

Additionally, with the incessant coddling that the newspaper has been providing the University of South Carolina over the years – and specifically the journalistic fellatio its “reporters” have habitually performed on the  Innovista “research campus” – it may not be as easy for The State to explain away this latest example of its failure to act on specific information that it was exclusively provided.

Which would be even more damaging from a credibility standpoint.

What, exactly, are we talking about?

Well, it’s obvious at this point that La Socialista is every bit as “invested” in Innovista as S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell, Columbia Mayor Bob Coble and USC President Harris Pastides – even if its editors weren’t the ones authorizing the expenditure of tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on a bunch of empty buildings (and emptier promises).

It’s equally obvious that whenever the University asks The State to jump – on practically any subject – the paper’s response is invariably “how high.” Seriously, people. We thought the shameful subservience of La Liberbad (a.k.a. The Greenville News) and the Tin Foil Hat Times (a.k.a. The Anderson Independent-Mail) to Clemson University was bad …

But if The State were provided with specific, relevant information – say, like the sort of information that was included in a groundbreaking special report published by The (Columbia, S.C.) Free Times on Wednesday – then its editors would naturally be compelled to go with that story, wouldn’t they? After all, The Free Times discovered that the University hired a glorified con man with a shady past and sketchy financial track record to develop the Innovista campus – and that the school knew about his problems ahead of time.

That’s newsworthy, right? And given all the money that’s behind spent on Innovista, it would be in the public’s best interests to report on something like that, wouldn’t it? Especially at the The State, whose parent company claims that its papers are “advocates for the communities they serve,” right?

Wrong on all counts, at least as far as La Socialista is concerned.

FITS has learned that The State was provided with information documenting the Innovista con man‘s past over a year ago … and sat on the story.

That’s right, The State had detailed information about this guy over a year ago and chose to do nothing.

How many millions of tax dollars have been wasted on Innovista since then?

Seriously, thank God for The Free Times running with the story or else this thing could have gone on forever …