The S.C. State Ethics Commission (SEC) has been asked to investigate potential issues of non-disclosure regarding the Patriots Point Development Authority and its $5,000 a month lobbyist, Brandon Dermody.
The request comes after S.C. Treasurer Curtis Loftis began investigating the troubled authority in the wake of its failure to pay back a $9.2 million taxpayer-funded loan last fall. Loftis’ predecessor, Converse Chellis, led the effort to approve this ill-conceived loan in the summer of 2009 – basically providing a government bailout to a for-profit maritime museum.
Chellis’ efforts were supported by Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman and House Ways and Means Chairman Danny Cooper.
Now, S.C. taxpayers have been left holding the bag …
According to the ethics complaint, Dermody’s lobbyist disclosure forms filed with the SEC are incomplete.
Specifically, Dermody’s filings with the SEC indicate that Patriots Point has paid him a total of $3,500 during the final six months of 2010 – and $4,750 for the calendar year. However, information obtained from the S.C. Comptroller General’s spending transparency website reveals that Patriots Point paid Dermody $35,400 over the final six months of 2010 – and $60,400 for the year.
Additionally, the complaint alleges that Dermody is lobbying to transfer land-use restrictions currently in place for the Patriots Point golf course to another golf course at Rivertowne (in Mount Pleasant, S.C.), which is where Dermody lives.
In fact, here’s a picture of his home …
(Click to enlarge)
“He is being paid with state tax dollars to work towards protecting the recreation status of his own … community,” the complaint alleges.
FITS reached Dermody by phone on Wednesday morning. He says that his accuser “doesn’t understand the law” regarding lobbying disclosure forms, and that his firm is only required to report the income it receives for “hours spent directly lobbying before lawmakers.”
Regarding the golf course allegations, Dermody flatly denied doing any lobbying on the issue.
“There is no way that moving that land grant will benefit me in any way,” he said. “I have nothing to do with it.”
Dermody says that the private company which owns both golf courses will make a decision regarding its land grants, and that he will have no role in that process.
Dermody also defended the loan to Patriots Point, saying that the taxpayers will be repaid with interest.