ALLEGED “LEXINGTON RING” LEADER ACCUSED OF CAMPAIGN FINANCE VIOLATIONS
Lexington County, S.C. Sheriff James Metts – one of the public figures at the center of an ongoing video poker scandal – has been accused of failing to report thousands of dollars worth of cash contributions to his political campaign.
FITS has spoken with at least a half dozen sources over the last week - including several within the video poker industry – who claim that they provided Metts with cash contributions over the past decade that never showed up on campaign finance reports filed with the S.C. State Ethics Commission (SCSEC).
We’ve also spoken with several law enforcement sources who have confirmed the allegations against Metts – who has served as Lexington County Sheriff since 1972.
According to these sources, two former members of the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department (LCSD) were responsible for soliciting and collecting these contributions on Metts’ behalf. One of these officers reportedly hand-delivered a brown paper bag to Metts that contained more than $50,000 in cash contributions – the vast majority of which the Sheriff never reported.
Exactly how much money Metts allegedly raised “off the books” remains a mystery – as does the amount of money that was “contributed” by video poker operators.
Metts is one of the alleged leaders of the “Lexington Ring” – a group of corrupt politicians and crooked cops who stand accused of running an illegal video poker operation based out of Lexington County, S.C. Details of the ring – including the mechanics of its operation and the cops and politicians it had on “lockdown” – were revealed last month thanks to audio recordings of part-time LCSD employee (and Lexington, S.C. town councilman) Danny Frazier.
Frazier was surreptitiously recorded on three hours of audio tapes that were provided to law enforcement and the media earlier this year by a former member of the ring. Frazier initially denied making the claims recorded on the tape, but then changed his story – saying he made the whole thing up in an effort to make himself appear influential.
Video poker has been illegal in South Carolina since 2000. We disagree with that policy given government’s current monopoly on legalized gambling as well as its selective enforcement of – and alleged participation in – illegal gambling operations like this one.
Anyway, after the scandal became public, Metts issued a statement saying that he was returning some of the money he has legally received from video poker operators over the years.
How much is he sending back? That’s not immediately clear …
Metts isn’t the first South Carolina politician to be accused of play fast and loose with South Carolina campaign finance law. Back in March, former S.C. Lt. Gov. Ken Ard was indicted by S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson for his involvement in a “cash for contributions” scam. Ard resigned his office in disgrace and was sentenced to five years probation.
Will Wilson follow up on this allegations against Metts?
We’ll have to wait and see …