The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper took a break from hammering away at GOP gubernatorial nominee Nikki Haley on Monday to confirm what FITS readers have known for years – that S.C. Senator Vincent Sheheen has used (abused?) his position as a lawmaker to reap handsome profits on the backs of the taxpayers of this state.
According to The State‘s report – Sheheen’s Camden, S.C.-based law firm has made hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees off of state government. Those cases include eminent domain lawsuits as well as workers’ compensation cases – two areas of practice which have contributed mightily to the meteoric rise in Sheheen’s personal income since he became a lawmaker in 2001.
As we’ve noted on multiple occasions in the past, Sheheen has repeatedly crossed the line when it comes to legislative ethics – earning hundreds of thousands of dollars on workers’ comp cases while working in the legislature to uphold anti-competitive personal injury laws and blocking fiscally conservative nominees to the state’s Workers’ Compensation Commission. According to The State, Sheheen’s firm has raked in more than $750,000 in workers’ comp fees over the past six years – not a bad haul.
On top of that, Sheheen was one of thirteen lawmakers to participate in multi-million dollar lawsuits against the payday lending industry – at the same time that he was attempting to regulate the industry for political gain.
Sheheen has insisted repeatedly that there is no conflict of interest in either case, but it’s painfully obvious he and numerous other lawyer-legislators should be recusing themselves from votes that have such a direct bearing on their personal finances. In fact, several lawmakers who were litigating the payday lending lawsuit have done just that in the past.
“I personally believe that abstaining from voting and abstaining from debate on the payday lending issue is the right thing to do,” House Judiciary Chairman Jim Harrison told FITS at the height of the scandal over the payday lending lawsuit. “Others are free to make their own decision, and I won’t criticize them for doing so, but this is my decision as it relates to my involvement on this particular issue.”
Also recusing himself on payday lending votes was Murrell Smith (R-Sumter).
Harrison and Smith’s actions were praised by Haley.
“They did exactly what I would expect from them,” Haley said. “They did the right thing.”
Sheheen? Not so much …