By FITSNews || It’s about time …
Agents from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have launched a joint probe into one of the most clear-cut “pay-to-play” scams we’ve ever seen – a coastal S.C. campaign finance scandal that is now being linked to terms like “money laundering, criminal conspiracy and tax fraud.”
At least that’s according to Rep. Tracy Edge, the only politician who was offered – but didn’t take – an alleged kickback for passing a tax hike last year. Numerous other politicians did take the money, though.
Edge provided some details about the pending IRS/FBI investigation in Thursday’s editions of The (Myrtle Beach) Sun News.
So … what exactly happened?
Well, the alleged scam started last May when the Horry County (S.C.) legislative delegation pushed through a one cent sales tax hike on local residents – the proceeds of which were handed over directly to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. That’s right, South Carolina’s “Republican” lawmakers actually sponsored a tax increase that explicitly funneled money into the bank account of non-governmental entity.
Why did they do that? Well, aside from the fact that most of them are big government RINOs, let’s follow the money …
Five state lawmakers (along with U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett and several city council members) collectively received nearly $350,000 in campaign contributions from a shadowy network of “corporations” shortly after the tax hike was approved. The contributions came in the form of cashier’s checks – all of which were issued on the same day from the same bank, in sequential order, no less.
Critics insist that these “corporations” were nothing more than cover for a Chamber of Commerce slush fund that was administered by a former Chamber Chairman, local attorney Shep Guyton, who just so happened to be the registered agent for each of the companies involved in the scam.
They also allege that the contributions were nothing more than payback from the Chamber for passing the tax hike – which it appears painfully obvious at this point that they were.
The only question left is whether or not the Chamber had a role in the scandal – and specifically whether the money could be tied back to the organization?
Sadly, no one seemed to be asking those questions. In fact earlier this year it appeared as though the whole mess would be swept completely under the rug. Outraged that such a blatant fiasco would go unchallenged, we wrote a story at the time decrying the lack of a legitimate investigation into the matter by state authorities as well as the local media.
Fortunately, pressure from local political activists (notably Tom Herron) kept the heat on and this May the scam started to unravel.
That’s when representatives of the Chamber – after denying any involvement for months – finally admitted that they had helped dole out the envelopes stuffed with the controversial cashier’s checks.
Four S.C. Representatives – Thad Viers, Nelson Hardwick, George Hearn and Alan Clemmons – took those checks. So did State Sen. Ray Cleary.
Frankly, if it is revealed that these lawmakers knowingly received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from an organization benefiting from a tax hike they passed, they should be voted out of office. And if there was any criminal activity associated with those payments, then they should obviously resign.