According to several sources at the University of South Carolina, there’s a reason that The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper omitted any mention of former S.C. Gov. Jim Hodges in its big report on the school’s failed $20 million biomass plant.
They say that information was either redacted or deliberately excluded from the school’s response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request submitted by the paper – with the purpose of “keeping the connection under wraps.”
At the time the biomass project was approved, Hodges was a lobbyist for Johnson Controls, Inc. – the company which built the botched plant. In fact he’s credited by our sources with convincing school officials to move forward with the project.
Yet curiously, Hodges’ name was nowhere to be found in a sprawling, 3,500-word expose about the facility – nor was it mentioned that the two University officials who approved the plant were top-level state bureaucrats during Hodges’ tenure.
“All of those guys are connected,” one source familiar with the drama tells FITS. “They’re just covering each others’ backs.”
We maintain that the omission of Hodges’ involvement in the scandal was the result of The State‘s longtime policy of aiding and abetting elected officials who support this sort of big government boondoggling. After all, The State has been a premier promoter and insurance policy against bad press for “Innovista” - a much costlier big government boondoggle pushed by S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell and USC president Harris Pastides.
A speculative real estate deal gone bad, this so-called “research campus” has drained taxpayers of more than $150 million (and counting). The project was supposed to usher in the “hydrogen economy of the future” and bring “thousands of high-paying jobs” to downtown Columbia, S.C., but it has failed spectacularly on all counts. Amazingly, it is still being funded by state and local taxpayers to the tune of millions of dollars a year – and that’s just its direct appropriations.
Anyway, we find it hard to believe that a public entity would attempt to evade a FOIA from a mainstream media outlet like this … but these sources are adamant.
Stay tuned … we may file a FOIA of our own in an attempt to get down to the bottom of this mystery.