SC

Charleston Post And Courier Rocked By Allegations Of Corruption

STATE’S LARGEST PAPER ACCUSED OF CAVING TO POLITICAL PRESSURE  The largest newspaper in South Carolina stands accused of succumbing to threats and intimidation from some of the state’s most powerful politicians – refusing to publish stories, omitting key details in its coverage and helping to suppress public criticism of powerful…

STATE’S LARGEST PAPER ACCUSED OF CAVING TO POLITICAL PRESSURE 

The largest newspaper in South Carolina stands accused of succumbing to threats and intimidation from some of the state’s most powerful politicians – refusing to publish stories, omitting key details in its coverage and helping to suppress public criticism of powerful S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell in the wake of his recent reimbursement scandal.

The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier is also taking heat for shamelessly stabbing one of its own reporters in the back – essentially fabricating a “correction” to one of its stories at the request of Harrell (who later used it to smear the integrity of this journalist).  Some even think the paper forced the reporter from her position as a result of her expose on Harrell’s campaign finances.

And for what?  Why would the largest media outlet in the state bow to such pressure?  According to our sources, The Post and Courier backed off of the Harrell story to maintain its share of a coveted sales tax exemption that routes more than $13 million into the pockets of newspaper owners across the state each year.

Some powerful motivation, in other words.

We’ve addressed parts of this sordid narrative in a previous post – but we had to idea the extent to which the paper was allegedly pressured by Harrell and his supporters.  Nor did we know that one of the threats – said to have been delivered by one of Harrell’s top legislative lieutenants –  involved such a significant financial incentive.

***

THE “HIT PIECE”

How did all of this start?  Well, The Post and Courier – the oldest daily newspaper in the South – published a big story last month which meticulously documented how Harrell had reimbursed himself more than $325,000 from his campaign account over the last four years (most of it ostensibly for travel expenses).

Bobby Harrell: Bullying the fourth estate?

Harrell has basically admitted his guilt as it relates to at least some of this cash – returning more than $23,000 to his campaign fund shortly before news of the scandal broke – however a host of unanswered questions remain about these dubious self-payments.

Harrell has refused to answer any of these questions – or provide documentation for his reimbursements.  And in addition to a furious public relations counteroffensive, he has also allegedly threatened fellow lawmakers and other politicos in an effort to put the kibosh on the scandal.

Is it working?  So far …

S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson has been asked to investigate Harrell due to the lack of action from the notoriously unreliable House Ethics Committee – which earlier this year cleared S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley of wrongdoing in her ethics case despite a preponderance of incriminating evidence against the governor.

In fact the chairman of the House Ethics Committee – S.C. Rep. Roland Smith (RINO-Aiken) – has already said that he “can’t afford” to even discuss the allegations against Harrell, let alone do anything about them.  Will Wilson do anything?

That remains to be seen.  Once again, though, we’ve got a glaring example of public corruption in South Carolina – and at this point no one is willing to step up and do anything about it.

No wonder this is one of the most corrupt states in America, right?

***

“LITTLE GIRL,” BIG PUSHBACK

The story on Harrell was broken by Renee Dudley, a young investigative reporter who had previously exposed several major scandals involving Haley.  In fact Dudley was derisively referred to as a “little girl” by the governor as a result of her reporting.  During her two-year tenure at the paper, Dudley earned a reputation as a thorough, accurate and unflinching investigative journalist – one of the few reporters in the state (and certainly at the S.C. State House) who was willing to do hard research and speak truth to power.

Renee Dudley: Was she forced out?

According to our sources at the paper (all of whom praised Dudley’s integrity and decried the way she was treated by her superiors), the pushback from Harrell began long before the reimbursement story ran.  Apparently Harrell and his staffers rejected repeated invitations from Dudley to review a database of controversial reimbursements that she had compiled – and to provide responses to specific questions regarding the legality of those reimbursements.

At this point we’re told that extensive pressure was placed on the paper to kill the story, but given the detailed records that Dudley had assembled – and the clear failure on the part of Harrell to follow state law regarding the invoicing and itemization of his reimbursements – that wasn’t going to happen.

Harrell’s refusal to turn over records – or explain himself to the paper – compounded his problem (and is still compounding his problem in the court of public opinion).

Armed with Dudley’s meticulous documentation and evidence of a clear violation of state law, The Post and Courier ran her story on September 24 – on the front page, above the fold.  However our sources at the paper say that the report made numerous concessions to Harrell and was “much softer” than the original story submitted by Dudley.

***

THE RETREAT

It wasn’t the lead-up to Dudley’s story – or its softening – that takes this tale from disturbing to downright despicable.  That came after the story published – with the wholesale retreat of The Post and Courier from its original reporting.

For example, our sources at the paper say that Dudley had prepared a blistering follow-up on the Harrell story that was slated to run on September 26.   Details of that piece are hazy, but we’re told that it would have “further painted (Harrell) in a corner” regarding the legality of his reimbursements – and in particular the questionable valuation of his travel-related self-payments.

This story never ran, though.  Instead of publishing Dudley’s piece, The Post and Courier ran a story written by Associated Press reporter Seanna Adcox – a notorious “regurgitator” of political spin – that basically exonerated Harrell and called into question Dudley’s reporting.   That’s not the only punch the paper is said to have pulled in an effort to appease Harrell.

In the immediate aftermath of Dudley’s story running, we’re told that letters to the editor received by the paper were overwhelmingly critical of Harrell – but that The Post and Courier‘s editorial board chose instead to highlight letters that were favorable to the Speaker.

Then there was the paper’s infamous correction – issued the day after Dudley announced she was taking a job with Bloomberg in New York City – which retroactively applied “errors” to Dudley’s reporting that she never made.  Harrell later used this “correction” to claim that Dudley had “falsely accused (him) of violating the law.”

Was Dudley forced from her position as yet another concession to Harrell?  It’s clear at this point that she had received plenty of offers from other news outlets on the basis of her performance in the Palmetto State, but did she really want to leave?

Whatever happened to Dudley, before the ink on the so-called “hit piece” against Harrell had begun to dry The Charleston Post and Courier had already begun the process of reversing its reporting – and abandoning its reporter.

***

KNOWING WHERE TO SQUEEZE

The most insidious component of this tale?  That’s the explanation we’ve been given in our quest to answer the most basic question associated with The Post and Courier‘s handling of this story:  Why?

Why would an independently owned paper – a so-called bastion of public integrity – permit any politician (no matter how powerful or popular) to push it around like this?  What could have possibly compelled its editors to cede so much ground – and so much of their journalistic integrity – so quickly?

According to our sources, the explanation lies in a special interest exemption carved out more than sixty years ago for newspaper publishers.  Under this exemption (S.C. Code of Laws section 12-36-2120-8), newspapers do not have to pay sales tax on the newsprint paper they purchase – nor do they have to incorporate sales tax into their product pricing.  According to the latest estimates from the S.C. Department of Revenue, these exemptions are worth roughly $13 million a year to the industry.

Chip Limehouse: Delivering a message?

In fact as the debate over these sales tax exemptions has ramped up in recent years, The Post and Courier‘s former publisher Bill Hawkins frequently beat a path from Charleston to Columbia, S.C. for the purpose of lobbying lawmakers on behalf of keeping the carve outs in place.

Hawkins is no longer employed by the paper.  In fact he left the same day Dudley did.  His advocacy on this issue, however, is said to have been what provided Harrell and his legislative allies with the leverage they needed to squeeze the paper into submission.

According to our sources in the S.C. House “Republican” Caucus, before Dudley’s initial story on Harrell was published the powerful House Speaker had already dispatched one of his top lieutenants – S.C. Rep. Chip Limehouse (RINO-Charleston) – to begin the process of applying pressure on the paper.

In addition to being one of Harrell’s veteran “plumbers,” Limehouse is also drinking buddies with Pierre Manigault – The Post and Courier‘s owner and board chairman.

Limehouse did not return calls seeking comment for this story.

In an interview with FITS, Manigault acknowledges speaking to Limehouse in the weeks since the Dudley story was published – but denies that the lawmaker attempted to pressure him regarding the Harrell story.  According to him, Limehouse approached him on the street in downtown Charleston, S.C. one day and asked him whether it was true that a reporter had recently been “let go” from the paper.

Manigault says he asked Limehouse for the reporter’s name – but Limehouse told him he could not recall the name.

“I told him I would look into it,” Manigault said, but admits he never did.

“It slipped my mind,” he told us.

Manigault says he has not spoken to Harrell about the story – and that no one from the S.C. General Assembly has raised the tax exemption issue with him.

The Post and Courier‘s new publisher – P.J. Browning –  did not return our calls seeking comment for this story.  S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell’s office also did not return our calls seeking comment for this story.  Renee Dudley responded to us via text message, but declined to comment.

***

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101 comments

Jeff October 11, 2012 at 6:04 pm

boom

Reply
Todd October 11, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Eat shit Bobby Harrell! Eat so much Shit!

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? October 11, 2012 at 6:12 pm

So a young, ethical reporter made lemonade from lemons by getting a better job. Good for her!

As to the rest of the scoundrels, I hope the CP&C readership responds to this news accordingly(by dropping their subscription)…we all know nothing will happen to Harrell & company.

It is sad that the pols have legislated a choke chain on the newspapers this way…so much for the papers watchdog status- thank god for the internet.(or Al Gore)

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Bobby Boucher October 11, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Wow, Will knows all this dirt on the inner workings of the Post & Courier but has no idea who is funding his website? Amazing.

When is the expose on Howard Richs funding of FITNEWS going to be published?

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sweepin October 11, 2012 at 6:28 pm

If one slings enough crap on a wall, some of it will stick.

The “Founding Editor” has a capacity to sling crap that would make the Bowman located Weather’s Bros. Dairy manure spreader look like a child’s toy.

Liber-Tea anyone? You betcha!

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Cicero October 11, 2012 at 10:57 pm

What’s the connection between the Post & Courier allegedly throwing a good reporter under the bus when a powerful politician threatens its special interest exemption and the funding for this website?

There’s nothing more despicable than an entity that claims to be a government watchdog, yet kowtows to the bigwigs in Columbia when its precious tax exemption is held hostage.

If what Will’s asserting is in any way true, the Post & Courier should be shut down, its presses sold off and its building razed.

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Frank Wilson October 11, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Chipper’s horse always look like shit. They are thin, sad, and generally in piss poor shape.Just an observation.

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Andy October 11, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Always interesting, this kind of stuff is, but it’s not news. Someone needs to come up with a different word for “news” that keeps coming back again and again and again.

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Peter Smyth October 11, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Good story, Will.. The Post and Courier has a track record of caving to pressure, and the angle is this. The power in Charleston is historic and runs deep.,Manigault are Limehouse are only public faces. Look to the old Charleston names. Harrell and even Joe Riley are themselves just useful tools of this powerful group, they themselves are not insiders. It’s less about money than power. Old power. Harrell is far more important now with McConnell gone.
Ever watch the Showtime? Series Brotherhood? Harrell goes to Rhode Island.

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scsince60 October 11, 2012 at 6:57 pm

You think Manigault is not an “old Charleston” name?

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A. Huguenot October 11, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Surprised that a Smyth(e) doesn’t know a Manigault.

A. Huguenot

Charlestown 1689

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CNSYD October 11, 2012 at 6:42 pm

“The largest newspaper in South Carolina stands accused of succumbing to threats and intimidation from some of the state’s most powerful politicians”.

Accused by who? Sic Willie? Anytime I have ever asked someone who has been “accused” of a misdeed by Sic Willie for their response to what he said about them, the response is “you mean that guy convicted of CDV”? Thus they consider it nothing but noise in the system.

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Original Good Ole Boy October 11, 2012 at 8:28 pm

That’s a good point. How is the staff at the Post and Courier “rocked” by allegations that they might have never heard of until someone links them this story.

In any event, the story is plausible. I just wish he had some sources that were willing to testify.

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Eye Spy October 14, 2012 at 9:11 am

Plenty of douche bags, like you, who are felons yet to be charged and prosecuted.

I know who you are. lolololol.

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MeMyself October 14, 2012 at 10:19 pm

“I just wish he had some sources that were willing to testify.”

Dudley not commenting is close enough for me.

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ohnonotagain October 11, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Oh this would be a bombshell if there were any sources to which it could be attributed.
the motivation is completely speculative.
Newsroom gossip is notoriously unreliable.
That doesn’t say it couldn’t all be true.
But it ain’t journalism.
If Dudley is as good as we all think she is, she has a copy of the followup story on a personal file, Will.
Ask her for THAT.

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Soft Sigh from Hell October 11, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Yep, Dudley’s blistering follow-up needs to see the light of day.

Alas, South Carolina, why drive away those whom we need and shower with favors those we should tar and feather and ride out on a rail.

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sweepin October 11, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Thus is our collective heritage, sir.

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? October 12, 2012 at 8:44 am

Yep, and in fairness to SC it’s not just here. It’s the nature of mans relationship to gov’t everywhere.

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Mean Old Coot October 11, 2012 at 7:51 pm

The esteemed late Mr. Ball [Editor &/or Publisher of the last “real” noosepepper in Charleytown (The Noose & Courier)in the 50s & 60s] has by now flipped in his grave so much that he has found water in his well.

The old N&C was a great pepper.

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James October 11, 2012 at 7:57 pm

Of course, they’re corrupt. But not as corrupt as you.

Your domestic violence charges should have been enough, but that charade with the Nikki Haley philandering non-story was way beyond the icing on the cake for your credibility.

Seriously. Shoot yourself in the head.

Signed,
Everyone

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fitsnews October 11, 2012 at 8:35 pm

“Shoot yourself in the head. Signed, Everyone.”

That’s actually REALLY good.

I like …

-Will

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Hip escape October 12, 2012 at 9:00 am

Well, I don’t want you to shoot yourself in the head, Will. You provide so much entertainment, if we didn’t have you we’d have to invent something like you. And sometimes your reporting is damned good. Like Lex ring, and this Bobby Harrel story. Keep up the good work buddy.

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Thomas October 11, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Oh The Humanity!!!

LOL

Maybe Gov Haley will pardon you Harrel, you POS, only if you start ratting out the others.

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John Cecil October 11, 2012 at 8:17 pm

The P&C are the ones who broke the story in the first place. They may have backed off a follow up but without knowing the exact content it could have been a reasonable decision based on the information they had. You go accusing someone of fraud and corruption you better be able to back it up. The P&C had a good editorial that was pretty tough on Harrell today. I’m not saying it didn’t happen but they can’t just go slinging mud around like you can on the internet. There is a lot of good information here and plenty of knowledgeable people, but the underlying theme for every story is this website being in charge of the entire government, having sex with the governor, and above all other newspapers.

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sweepin October 11, 2012 at 8:32 pm

The “Founding Editor” doesn’t need facts. He simply needs innuendo, bluster, and a laptop computer.

Voila!! A damn expert in the eyes of most South Carolinians (average IQ of 94, tied with Mississippi for last in the US).

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Lance Riprock October 12, 2012 at 9:27 am

Sweepin, would that 94 be Fahrenheit or Celsius? My empirical study finds that SC average IQ is just a little shy of room temperature. How else could we get bamboozled by the feather merchants that we keep electing?

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Sailor October 11, 2012 at 8:18 pm

If Ms. Dudley has a follow-up piece, it would be great if Fits could publish it, but she may well be restricted by a contractual agreement with the paper.

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OhNoNotAgain October 12, 2012 at 4:49 am

Reporters do not work under contract anywhere. Some columnists, maybe.
Might violate some ethical standard, but if they truly lied about mistakes and threw her under the bus, bets are off.

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Lance Riprock October 12, 2012 at 9:31 am

Dayum, old name doesn’t necessarily mean respectable. Remember Sidi?

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Dayum Son October 11, 2012 at 8:31 pm

Dayum son – you think you “rocked” them old boys in Chahstun? I think they could care less what you think or what I think. They really don’t care at all.

A couple of things though – Pierre Manigault only cares about his magazine – Garden & Gun – he really could care less about the paper other than the money it made his daddy and them. It is very likely true that he had only the faintest notion of who Renee Dudley was and that she might have written a story or two that pissed off some redneck politician they control. When it comes right down to it, people like Manigault (who is a LOT lime your boy Kirkman Finlay) have little personal use for rednecks like Harrell, McConnell and … wait for it … Chip Limehouse. What? Yep – Chip Limehouse may have an old name, but he is just a Colleton County redneck who got to play on polo ponies after his momma’s family made a bunch of money in the garbage bidness (bada-bing). Believe me, Manigault doesn’t consider Chip his buddy – drinking or otherwise. Next thing – and the most important thing – is that the people who actually run the paper don’t give two shits about Booby Harrell. They just want a Speaker of the House. They don’t care which redneck politician from the Charleston suburbs is Speaker as long as some redneck politician from the Charleston suburbs is Speaker. If there was someone they could put in his place, they’d cut Booby (metaphorically of course) in a second.

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Amy October 12, 2012 at 7:01 am

Good analysis. (could NOT care less….however.)

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jimlewis,owb October 11, 2012 at 9:51 pm

The only reason I picked up copies of Piss and Crap was to put in the bottom of my parakeet’s cage.

As of 9:03 this evening that will no longer be necessary. The little fucker died.

When I removed Boutros Boutros Gollee’s limp body from the bottom of the cage I noticed that there was no crap, not a single turd to be found from a bird who used to shit non stop 24/7.

At that moment I realized that I had killed Boutros Boutros Gollee.

It is my theory that he heard me discussing this story earlier with a friend and at that point he realized that he would never ever be able to shit again and the shock was too much for his little heart.

So on behalf of Boutros Boutros Gollee I would like to say to Bobbie Harrell and to the owner’s of the Piss and Crap, Go Fuck Yourselves.

Boutros Boutros Gollee a parakeet, a true hero of South Carolina, would rather keel over fucking dead than to let his shit land on the piece of shit you two call a Newspaper.

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Common Sense October 13, 2012 at 10:55 am

Classic!

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Priestly October 11, 2012 at 9:52 pm

In this case of high-level political knee-breaking, it was Pierre Manigault who got the threat, from Limehouse, who carries water for Harrell.

Limehouse is also well known for carrying threats and water for Glenn McConnell, who is very much directing from the background, invisible like the Cheshire Cat.

Manigault’s “chat with Chip on the street” explanation is risible.

The senior management team — “jugular vein” — is:

Evening Post Publishing Company
Pierre Manigault, Chairman of the Board
Edward M. Gilbreth, M.D., Vice Chairman
John P. Barnwell, Vice Chairman, Chief Executive Officer
Arthur M. Wilcox, Secretary
Travis O. Rockey, President, Chief Operating Officer
Daniel P. Herres, Executive Vice President

For years Manigault has received indirect but clear threats (sometimes called suggestions) from Harrell and McConnell.

Manigault tells John Barnwell to pull or edit a story, issue a retraction, or fire a reporter.

Barnwell gives the bad news to one of these managers:
The Post and Courier
William E.N. Hawkins, Editor and Publisher
Charles R. Rowe, Editorial Page Editor
Tom Clifford, Executive News Director

who follow through with the individual editors (sometimes themselves) who carry out the order, giving Manigault two to three degrees of separation.

Incidentally, Manigault isn’t motivated just by the sales tax exemption, but, according to my sources, the “threat factor” of other legislation that Harrell and McConnell can do to the P&C.

“The fear of the unknown is so much more powerful,” the contact says.

Indeed, one can now see that Harrell and McConnell have, at the core, controlled the P&C for years.

Here is your proof.

Hail to Renee for unveiling “the emperor’s new clothes.

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@BozMartin October 11, 2012 at 10:18 pm

What a satisfying story. This episode, anyway. The “little girl” goes on to greener pastures, taking names and kicking ass all the way.

I LIKE it!

It would make a terrific movie.

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Philip Branton October 12, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Good day Mrs Bobby Harrell,

Your support for your husband was exactly the right “flag” to present from all facets according to your prism of view. Of course we all know that you may not get this pertinent information until a fine young lady gets word while she is attending an appropriate football tailgate but here goes……

1) Mrs Harrell, if Fitsnews is Drudgereport…then what is Lin Bennett’s Dress.??

2) Mrs Harrell and Agent “X”, when Possum posts his puppet videos how are they meant to be used by the Judge and Circuit Court secretary before the case ever becomes “political”..??

3) Mrs Harrell and Pepe Escobar, how would Boz and Dayum be used to underscore the discussions concerning capital equipment along the Charleston waterfront sitting idle that has six degrees of separation from Mrs Summey and the Emir of Qatar..??

4) Mrs Harrell and Mr Ford, if Hillary said “We came ..we SAW..and he DIED” about someone we killed then what did the Syrian leader say when his “Funds” killed our Ambassador..??

5) Mrs Harrell and Mrs Hicks, the whole world saw just how much WIND ENERGY we have when they saw the Ocean Course getting a breeze during the Ryder Cup, SO…how many federal workers realize that Renee Dudley did NOT ask Governor Haley any wind energy questions nor did any TV weatherman in our entire state when Haley was slamming drinks in the courtesy tents.?

6) Mrs Harrell and Susan G. Komen Foundation members, when walks for the cure or Bridge run participants walk up the Ravenel Bridge ….does anyone ask observant women why they do not see Wind Turbines across our lowcountry to invest in like women were asked to do for World War 2 “war bonds”?

7) Mrs Harrell and Mrs Condon, considering that “J. Paulz” has Happy Hour just like “Diane’s on Devine”, we understand that our gas taxes are supposed to fix and support our highways, just exactly how are our spirit taxes used that are collected by our fine state distributors? How does Chip Limehouse see his garbage history and the landfill enlargements via “Club Bada Bing”?

8) Mrs Harrell, if Hillary stood by her “B” and you stood by your “B” what position would you want to be appointed too?

9) Mrs Harrell, if your husband is feeling squeezed in the lowcountry and Trey Gowdy is getting squeezed in the upstate, then “why” is James Clyburn being so “innovista” silent.?

10) Mrs Harrell as well as all ladies across the SOUTH, we hope you find some “Renee Dudley” and “Ashley Wilkes” time to ponder why the advertisements in SKIRT Magazine are so much bigger than the ones in any newspaper in our STATE.? When you realize why…..concerned information operations personnel here in our state hope you hear Samuel L. Jackson yelling at you.

**Attention all journalism students**……..this one meat article is a clear example of how Wil Folks uses information and is then USED by information to do what? Your homework assignment is to think of three questions to ASK your journalism Professor in class on Monday about this article and the history preceding it and the timing of this article before November. Also look at who FUNDS your journalism school and realize what your NOT being taught to do.?

Go Cocks….

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Rastus October 11, 2012 at 10:32 pm

The talk of the Mainstream Media being corrupt is true and they are for the highest bidder and the one that offers the most reward.They will even take you from their posting board if you lean to hard on Democrats,especially Obama. I havent spent a penny to my knowledge on one of their papers in years.

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Old Bike Dude October 11, 2012 at 10:49 pm

Motherfucker! You mean a South Carolina newspaper played partisan politics only to get hoisted on its on petard.
Say it ain’t so sic! I can’t wait to see the hell raised by Lil Joelie and his merry band of ethics elves.

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semi October 11, 2012 at 11:03 pm

Wil,
A fact check on the tax exemption afforded newspapers for product used in their publication, i.e. ink, paper, etc. This exemption is given to EVERY print shop and newspaper in South Carolina. The only articles that carry a sales tax are those not incorporated into the printed item whether it be a newspaper, letter head, signage, envelope or any similar printed instrument. So your insinuation that only newspapers enjoy the exemption is wrong.

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sweepin October 11, 2012 at 11:28 pm

There’s so many goddamn exemptions in our tax code as to make one’s head spin. Manufacturer’s, Agricultural seeds, fertilizers and insecticides…. you name it. Any industry paying sales tax is almost criminally inept.

I sell and maintain capital equipment. Some areas of the plant are tax exempt while others pay full freight. Who the hell can tell where the boundaries are?

I gather the exemption certificate, keep it for my files, and let the industry argue with the SC Dept. of Revenue.

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semi October 11, 2012 at 11:38 pm

sweepin,
Agree with you, latest figures on sales tax show there is more exempted than collected.

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Dayum Son October 11, 2012 at 11:15 pm

Dayum son – Priestly mah boy – you have it exactly backwards, In places kinda like Charleston (well, there ent no place exactly like Charleston), people like Pierre Manigault, Edward Manigault Gilbreth, John Parker Barnwell and Arthur Manigault Wilcox buy and sell po’ crackahs like Booby Harrell every day. If they are protecting Booby (and it would appear that they are), it is because of what he has and can do FOR them – not because of what he could or might do TO them… These old guard patricians aren’t journalists and don’t pretend to be. They are businessmen who see themselves as guardians of a social and political order. But – I am telling you that Pierre is just the figurehead. He was forced to spin off Garden & Gun because it wasn’t making the old farts any money, and no longer calls any of the shots at the newspaper. In the end, Pierre may have the last laugh on that one. One last thing – ent nobody afraid of a meathead polo-playin’ cracker from Colleton County. The idea that Chip Limehouse is some kind of enforcer is laughable. Boy’s got a head full of rocks and a closet full of skeletons – everbody knows that…

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Bert October 12, 2012 at 12:04 am

Garden & Gun is doing very well, as reported in a long, glowing New York Times article last month.

The Post & Courier spun it off and sold it to Pierre Manigault and Rebecca Darwin (former publisher of The New Yorker), and Manigault relishes co-owning it independently and being a part of an exciting, growing literary/cultural magazine.

And he’s no Post & Courier figurehead. He is the HMFIC of all the newspapers. Barnwell is a lawyer with no publishing expertise. Gilbreath is a full-time doctor and family member. Arthur Wilcox is in his 80s and long retired. Barnwell is really the number two man there.

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Philip Branton October 12, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Dear Renee “O’Hara” Dudley…….

Why I do declare that Rhett would most certainly understand why you so “blazen-ly” wear black in this picture above. One would most certainly “Hope” that you find yourself enjoying your Bloomberg “change” in all those lovely shops up and down Park Avenue darlin’. If your covering the Walmart beat, say Hello too Cheryl Tiegs for Wil and Boz and Brian Hicks.
Now Renee, your no little Girl but when you where called that… everyone knew that your days would be numbered. We feel certain that you are bright enough to see how Amber Lyon http://amberlyonlive.com/ and Christopher Greene http://www.greenewave.com/ have both branched off to follow in Wil Folks’ footsteps. Renee, our dear, there is a reason that you were given the Walmart beat. Do you know why? All you have to do is fire up Google Earth and overlay their store and warehouse and distribution points over the respective congressional districts to see how your link to Trey Gowdy could be used (and Bobby Harrell).
Renee, everyday you sit down to peck away at your keyboard, there are only three things you need to know about Walmart.

1) How much Foreign OIL and Gas and Energy do they consume each and every day and how does it impact the WAR Effort? How do they move goods (..both store destined.. and “illicit”)

2) How do they use the Banking system to move their profits across financial barriers to impact certain offshore interests and political “development”.

3) How do they “harvest” all the products they sell and what corporate partners are groomed for the “shelf wars”. How are these corporate partners used in Diplomatic negotiations all across the WORLD to actually leverage coins for unaware “tin cups”?

Renee, we hope you have a copy of the “Art of War” as a reference guide handy.

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Quizzer October 11, 2012 at 11:30 pm

No one going to state the obvious here? That Renee and Will were fucking?

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sweepin October 11, 2012 at 11:34 pm

Why not? In his mind he’s effing everything that walks.

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McKW October 12, 2012 at 12:30 am

Renee’s very attractive but it’s insulting to hint that she did anything “personal” to get her story. She was an award-winning journalist before coming to the Post and Courier, and the unprofessional treatment described above explains why she got the hell out of that blockhouse on Columbus Street.

Bloomberg is a huge news operation with offices in 192 locations worldwide, a class act. Renee is assigned to the retail sector, Walmart specifically, and I’m sure she’ll excel. And she’s in New York City, a great place to be if you’ve got her kind of smarts.

I wouldn’t give two cents for anybody in that building except Tony Bartelme, and believe he’s not leaving only because his little girl lives in Charleston (Tony is divorced).

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Lynn October 12, 2012 at 11:16 am

I know Renee and she’s got much better taste than Will.

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Original Good Old Boy October 12, 2012 at 11:38 am

Um, maybe because it’s so far from obvious that it’s ridiculous for you to even state it.

Will is married with kids, so hopefully he doesn’t step out on his family. And knowing his propensity to brag, surely someone would have heard a rumor and posted it here if he were unfaithful.

And Lynn is probably right about Dudley having better taste, not to mention that she lived in Charleston.

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John Cecil October 12, 2012 at 12:10 am

Hilarious! But I think you have more in common with the P&C than you may appreciate. If it wasn’t for those groups who protested at the State Capitol news papers wouldn’t have the legal latitude to report on the Speaker’s campaign finance scandal. I think they deserve a lot more credit for the courage to be there in person and confront this level of corruption head on.

Read the letters to the editor at the P&C today and notice that the chairman and vice chairman of Charleston County Council threatened to sue the Coastal Conservation League over Bobby Harrell’s 526 quagmire, when both Pryor and Summey voted against the project before.

The State removed my comment about their Harrell report yesterday. I don’t know why but at least the P&C didn’t remove my comment.

I will agree that Harrell uses these kind of legal threats and bullying to try and control what is reported or said about him.

Ok, that’s pretty obvious but someone needed to say it.

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John Cecil October 12, 2012 at 12:19 am

In fact this was the only news source that didn’t headline the protestors in Columbia. Instead the headline was Sic Willie’s very own Liber Tea PAC with barely a mention of the protestors anywhere.

By the was I coined a new term today, DIVO, Democrat In Voice Only, you know the ones who complain about how bad Bush was but don’t bother to get involved with local issues. That’s kind of the tone around here.

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? October 12, 2012 at 8:41 am

Ha, “DIVO”, very good…I’ll add that to my repertoire-especially every time I bring up the continuation of our multitude of overseas wars and increasing number of drone strikes under the black jesus.

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John Cecil October 12, 2012 at 3:36 pm

whip it… .whip it good!!!

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TJ October 12, 2012 at 1:18 am

Sic, no full body shop of fair Renee? How is Insect supposed to give us a complete scorecard on the young lady? As for her leaving, any politician involved in any way should be drawn and quartered- no state has enough cute girls to pressure one to leave…

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Limbo Rocker October 12, 2012 at 1:53 am

Can we please get MoRon Morris’s perspective on this?

Soon?

I think he might be able to…………….uh, nevermind.

But it would be just as funny as any of his other missives, wouldn’t it?

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Jeffy01 October 12, 2012 at 3:42 am

Another in a long long line of interviews with the mirror for ” secret sources”. Dudley has been a hack since day one. Period.
You have invented whacky new legal theories w your gf Landes…..that don’t in fact exist in SC law.
Yawn.
When are we putting the Governor in jail? The Horry delegation? The Lexington delegation? Coach Whinney ( that one hurt, I admit)?
Black helicopters….John Rainey….Oneil Compton……..dear lord…it’s all the damn Martians, and Templars!

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Jeffy01 October 12, 2012 at 3:46 am

Damn…… I forgot….shut up Boz you old Creepy bastard.

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Smirks October 12, 2012 at 7:57 am

And we wonder why journalism is dead? It’s nice when the occasional real journalist manages to escape the meat grinder being operated by the influential people they are reporting on.

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gregorybgeddings October 12, 2012 at 8:01 am

I am a blogger living in the Charleston area since 1974 (originally from Columbia). About a year and a half ago the P&C published a fluff piece about Goodwill Industries of Lower South Carolina (aka Palmetto Goodwill). In this article their $262,000 per year CEO, Robert Smith, asserted that their organization received no funding from either federal or state government. I examined their 501 (c) (3) financial statement through Guidestar and found that, in one year, Palmetto Goodwill received around eleven million dollars from government.

When I contacted the reporters who wrote the story and showed them my findings all hell broke loose inside the P&C. I emailed a bigwig at the paper and asked if they were going to issue a correction…no response.

I published an article on my blog regarding the false statements of the Goodwill CEO. He appears to be “protected”…despite his ineptitude and hubris…
http://2big2fallphotoshop.wordpress.com/2012/06/11/did-palmetto-goodwill-ceo-lie-to-the-charleston-post-and-courier/

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John Steinberger October 12, 2012 at 8:22 am

The Post and Courier published another front page story on Speaker Harrell’s campaign expenditure issue today (Fri., Oct. 12), following a Candidates Forum at Beech Hill Elementary School in Dorchester County. I suggested during the Forum that issues like this should be investigated by an independent State Ethics Commission, as was the case with the campaign expenditures by Lt. Gov. Ken Ard.

The Post and Courier needs to know that the news print sales tax exemption would remain intact under the South Carolina FairTax Act, which is a key item in my campaign for House District 114. The legislation exempts sales taxes for any items used by businesses in the production of their goods and services.

If we want to lift South Carolina’s economy from the bottom in the country, we need a pro-growth tax code. Take the time to learn the details on the South Carolina FairTax Act at http://www.scfairtax.org.

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John Cecil October 12, 2012 at 8:42 am

Another headlines story in P&C on Harrell finance scandal. All quiet and The State. Fitz reports on how the P&C is handling breaking and follow up reports. P&C “rocked by allegations”.. not seeing it so far. Not enough research on the projects Harrell and Limehouse support to even write a story because that would mean having to acknowledge the presence of other journalist, grass roots organizations and public officials other than Haley and Renee.

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The End Of Harrell October 12, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Word of mouth about destroyed the Chyrsler Corporation.

Word of Mouth Is Destroying this corrupt politician. McConnell and Riley should not have written those letters to the Post and Courier.

Harrell also was a fool for stating that everything was in order simply because he shoved a bunch of papers in front of a Associated Press Reporter. How can anyone be so stupid to make a statement like that? All that did was raise the level of public suspicion by 1000 notches.

The way all of this has been handled, they sure look like they are trying awfully hard to avoid going to prison.

All Harrell had to do, is be fully transparent and allow a full and detailed audit of his expenditures. Instead, he has circled his wagons. But his wagons are old and weak. He’s toast.

The FBI will make an appearance in this one. I am willing to bet my life on it.

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The end of Harrell (we hope) October 12, 2012 at 2:42 pm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1b26BD5KjH0

The End

This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I’ll never look into your eyes…again
Can you picture what will be
So limitless and free
Desperately in need…of some…stranger’s hand
In a…desperate land
Lost in a Roman…wilderness of pain
And all the children are insane
All the children are insane
Waiting for the summer rain, yeah

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Darth October 12, 2012 at 8:48 am

P&C has gone to hell since they lost Grace Kutkus…

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John Cecil October 12, 2012 at 9:38 am

Not sure who that is but news everywhere, especially here, has become more entertainment. I’m not saying the founding editor here is not intelligent or doesn’t have interesting perspective on political issues, he does. But so far I’m not seeing the sources or the even the full context of Harrell’s agenda and policy as Speaker of the House.

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Regretful October 12, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Grace and Iranus were good friends of mine, and she was a great reporter / editor. You’re right. Only the dregs — Kropf, Hicks, etc. — remain.

Those that good are gone from the P&C. Even John Kerr, their tireless first-amendment lawyer (and a war hero) is gone — to heaven, I am sure — god bless his dear soul.

The post about the caged parakeet, Boutros Boutros Gali crapping on the P&C is sublime. It has gone to hell, a smelly, messy embarrassment.

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you know October 12, 2012 at 10:05 am

Hey, Bobby, tell us about 1004217 Ocean LLC, Mateo Group, and Crawford Investment group. Won’t you?

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The End Of Harrell October 12, 2012 at 1:33 pm

You can tell Harrell is in full blown panic mode. I bet he is not getting much sleep these days. I bet he has had his house checked for FBI bugging devices and for a FBI GPS tracking on his car. LMAO!

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shifty henry October 12, 2012 at 10:55 am

This is all very interesting………

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Lynn October 12, 2012 at 11:18 am

This makes me recall John Monk’s exposure of the USC Jim Holderman intern mess while he reported for Charlotte Observer. We don’t like looking in our own back yard.

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Turtle October 12, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Monk was close to spilling the beans on Jean Toal in his recent Cromatie articles. He may be holding back until Toal rules.

Monk is still drinking the kool-aid as it relates to the procedures Toal has in place in her Judicial and Attorney Discipline Systems. He lost his credibility in that article when he called the hearing “an appeal” of the Commission on Lawyer Conduct’s recommendation. There is no such thing as an appeal in that process. It’s all at Jean’s (well, the Supreme Court’s, but we know who runs it) complete political whim. If he got his lessons on the procedure from Coggiola and Seymour – and there are dozens of lawyers who can tell him those two will lie when the truth would do them better – then he needs to talk with someone who really knows the system.

Please help keep Monk at The State. He may be one of the last good ones around.

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The End Of Harrell October 12, 2012 at 1:31 pm

Ahhhh … Holderman!! I had forgotten all about that one. Thanks for reminding me!!

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Raspy October 12, 2012 at 11:43 am

As usual, good article from WF. This is so much like the way WIS pulled back on the stories by Jody and others on the Lexington Crime Ring. Jimmy and Jake must have threatened to pull someone’s arm out of the socket. Same for The State. This topic has just gone away, presumably never to be heard from again.

No one seems to want to cover the allegations of domestic violence from earlier this year that surround Columbia’s police chief. So much corruption, so few investigative reporters.

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you know October 12, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Hearing Frazier is talking to and cooperating with Feds…giving them everything they need.

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The End Of Harrell October 12, 2012 at 1:30 pm

It takes balls to stand up to these criminals. But when you have dirt on them, they are cautious.

Harrell thinks he can bully anyone. Oh how wrong he is. Many I have spoken to hate his guts. They want to punch him in the face(simple assault) and dont seem to care about spending 30 days in jail for doing it.

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mph October 12, 2012 at 11:51 am

The Post and Courier was still running editorials saying we needed segregated schools in the 1980s.

Bat shit crazy since 1670 and it’s never going to change.

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The End Of Harrell October 12, 2012 at 1:27 pm

They are all going down, Will. But not without a fight.

This Harrell scandal is on the lips of most everyone across the entire state. Everybody knows he does not want to be investigated by the feds because he will lose his 5000 sq ft house, his airplane, all of his very expensive BMWs and Mercedes, and his fleet of boats.

We are going to see Harrel indicted by a federal grand jury along with his corrupt friends. Nothing is going to stop this from happening now. They can kiss each other’s butts goodbye.

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WorkingTommyC October 12, 2012 at 1:59 pm

You nailed it, Fits! Yet again corporate welfare aka fascism and corruption rears its ugly head in South Carolina politics.

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Neighbor 29401 - King & Ladson St. October 12, 2012 at 7:00 pm

A few years ago Pierre’s wife caught him fucking the nanny and threw him out the house. Quite a scene. Cops, the whole nine yards. Pierre fucked the nanny at his new house. Sorta like his daddy Peter who came onto women into his 80s. Peter even came onto my mother when he was married to Londine. Personal dishonesty runs in the Manigault family. Now everyone knows Pierre also fucks over his reporters, editors and readers. Surprise!

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Eye Spy October 14, 2012 at 9:18 am

Pierre is known not to be able to keep it in his pants.

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Gibbes October 14, 2012 at 3:00 pm

His wife is very pretty and fit, she was a ballerina. But yes his his pecker and his paper have no sense of right or wrong.

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Sailor October 12, 2012 at 3:01 pm

No new posts for Friday??

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Fleeced by Paul Thurmond October 12, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Harrell and McConnell have endorsed and are heavily promoting another corrupt politician, Paul Turmond, for Senate District 41 — the one vacated by McConnell. (Corruption overflows in District 41 !!)

The Post Courier revealed yesterday that Thurmond (son of Strom, brother of Essie-Mae, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essie_Mae_Washington-Williams) pocketed a $100,000 “consulting fee” last year as part of a deal to sell the mosquito-infested Bulow Hunt Club to Charleston County’s “Greenbelt land program” for “public enjoyment.”

http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20121011/PC16/121019841/1006/former-friends-feud-in-race-for-district-41

The Greenbelt Bank Board, assigned to select what land the County buys for this purpose, adamantly opposed the transaction. County Council over-ruled the GBB to help out their pal Thurmond.

In the old days, people like Thurmond, Harrell and McConnell were called horse thieves. Today they operate as elected officials.

Thurmond’s opponent is a democrat (gasp!) named Tinkler.

Tinkler’s campaign platform is almost entirely ethics reform.

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fitsnews October 12, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Sorry been busy …

-W

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John Cecil October 12, 2012 at 3:43 pm

My guess of a conversation between Manigault and Limehouse would be something like this, although I haven’t met Maigault.

“Is Bobby going to resign?” Manigault.

“No.” Limehouse.

“Dumb a fucking dumb ass.” Manigault.

“Fucking idiot.” Limehouse, with a quick what the hell are we going to do about it.

“Not my problem.” Manigault.

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John Cecil October 12, 2012 at 5:18 pm

BTW… I’m calling BS on Manigault and Limehouse accidentally running into each other in Charleston in the street. The chances of that happening right now are slim to none. They discussed something and didn’t want to any phones around. I”m assuming a lot of people are hoping Bobby resigns and doesn’t drag everyone down with him, which is happening anyway because he refuses to come clean with the receipts.

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J. Wellington Wimpy October 12, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Chip’s one of us, the big-spending hamburger-moocher-eaters of the world.

Chip, Wimpy here.

It’s 5:30. How many free hamburgers have you eaten today?

Remember our tag line:

“I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”

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John Cecil October 12, 2012 at 11:53 pm

The P&C has a partnership that owns a bunch of land on John’s Island. That’s what all of the proponents for 526 have in common. 526 is just a pet project for local Charleston developers that includes the public officials. You can look it up in the RMC. I’ve seen the copy of the land and partnership the P&C owns. That could have been the discussion. It dovetails with the campaign finance scandal. I’m not saying I know the extract extent of their involvement but would like to know.

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TomB October 13, 2012 at 12:33 am

John,

Highway 526 is a pet project pushed by the Charleston Trident Chamber of Commerce, many of whose members advertise in the P&C. It is advertising — not subscriptions — that drives profits at newspapers.

Some 92 companies are Chamber members (http://www.charlestonchamber.net/business-directory), and real estate is the largest advertising market for the P&C.

Whatever the advertisers want, Pierre Manigault also wants. Like a dog jumping through a hoop on the back of a pony, it is a routine.

526 is a money-making opportunity for this industry segment and many others that are major P&C advertisers — banks, construction companies, automotive, legal, retail, etc.

526 is designed to reduce the travel time for millionaires living on Kiawah and Seabrook from 45 minutes to 13 minutes to and from Charleston.

It would allow the Dept. of Transportation to take by eminent domain four black churches and ruin the quality of life of hundreds of poor black and white people.

The honkey white folks involved in paving over this paradise with 526 will make out like bandits.

And that includes Jim Rozier — SCDOT District One commissioner. Rozier is appointed by the Charleston County Legislative Delegation, whose chairman is (drum roll. . .) Chip Limehouse, whose business is (drum roll. . .) real estate development.

The money to be made in destroying Johns Island with 526 is sinful. Only alert citizens can prevent this from happening.

My attitude to the Kiawah and Seabrook millionaires, and the speculators and their spear-carriers like Rozier, Limehouse, Grooms, Campsen, Merrill, and tinhead Irishman Joe Riley is: make them drive over you.

Keep up the good fight. Especially help get rid of Limehouse and Merrill in future elections. Neither have opponents in November. They are bought and paid for by the S.C. Assn. of Realtors.

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John Cecil October 13, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Thanks for the information. I agree and learned a bit except for this one minor detail that I can help correct as I live on James Island.

“526 is designed to reduce the travel time for millionaires living on Kiawah and Seabrook from 45 minutes to 13 minutes to and from Charleston.”

I dont’ know where you got this but 526 is only an 8 miles road that connects Hwy 17 and Folly Road, that cuts across mostly marsh vegetation.

There is another highway that Kiawah is pushing for that would connect 526 to Kiawah and is about 20 miles long, and has been defeated numerous times. Kiawah and special interest developers have the audacity to call this highway the John’s Island Greenway, and is a high speed highway that has no entrance or exits from 526 to Kiawah. There are also only 2000 full time residents at Kiawah. So now you understand the full contact of where your tax revenues are going.

Once again thanks for the response.

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John Cecil October 13, 2012 at 7:23 pm

ps.. I didn’t know Chip LImehouse had real-estate interest. I can tell you that there is a huge sign for a large track of land just before Kiawah that says “Limehouse Properties” I don’t know if it’s the same Limehouse on the SIB, as I think that would he a conflict of interest. Mayor Riley’s family is also into real-estate, for many decades, and it has been reported that Vic Rawl on County Council has a large track of land on Johns Island that is planned for a subdivision. These are the proponents of 526 and are public officials.

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Alvin October 13, 2012 at 7:59 pm

He’s same insider-trader real-estate tycoon:

http://www.scdot.org/inside/SIB_board.aspx

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Limehouse-Properties/142669229113251

https://www.facebook.com/chip.limehouse?fref=ts

http://www.manta.com/c/mm276t3/limehouse-properties

Limehouse has as many conflicts of interests as my dog has fleas.

Rawl is a little bit different; he lives there and his (large) family has lived on Johns Island for aeons.

Riley’s family doesn’t own or speculate in real estate, and that realty company started by his father — long ago deceased — was sold to Jim Nimmich. Riley is an insufferable expansionist, wishing to make Charleston bigger and more attractive to wealthy northerners.

Limehouse, however, hails from downtown Charleston.

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Eye Spy October 14, 2012 at 9:16 am

That shitass Limehouse makes his living off of developement and real estate.

We’re going to have his head in due time. You better believe it!

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John Cecil October 14, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Once again thanks for the information. As it turns out I have 42 mutual friends on FB with Limehous, but am not up on real-estate companies. I also have no insider information and only am discussing this based on what I’ve read in the news and voted over the years. That being said, it does appear that both Limehouse and Rawl would profit or lose if 526 is approved, therefore should recuse themselves from voting which has been far from the case. Harrell is also one of the proponents and has shopped this both at a county and state level, leveraging his influence for the benefit of his $800,000 campaign funds that are subject to intense scrutiny by the AG. What bothers me about Riley is that he has already announced his intentions to give The Beach Company a park in the city for him to build condos on. The Beach Co has also campaigned for the completion of 526 and is invested in Kiawah. In fact the only insider info I have is that a friend of mine, also a real-estate developer, told me funds were in the pike for 526 well before it was on the county councils agenda. They were trying to sell him an older shopping center that would have benefited from the increased traffic. This was at a coffee shop and at the time didn’t seem unethical, yet demonstrats that the primary goal of this was to satisfy real-estate speculators and not traffic relief as it’s a low priority project. I did ask Dana Beach if he had heard that funding was approved and he said no, they didn’t have the money anywhere, and asked who it was but at the time I declined to name anyone, even though I could have. As I said I’m no insider or expert but both County Council and SCDOT have already voted 7-0 against this and now County Council will vote again? SCDOT and Buck Limehouse were very clear that County Council’s only option were to ether approve Alt G, their preferred alternative, or no build and re apply. Since then County Council voted 7-0. Yet, these proponents, Harrell, Limehouse, Rawl, Riley, Pryor, Summey.. keep forcing this back on their agenda, and have corrupted the process.

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Soft Sigh from Hell October 13, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Mencken noted many decades ago that the public (despite its repeated claims)loves an attack-style of newspaper and would far rather see scoundrels pilloried than scoundrels, or even saints if be there any, having their praises sung.

Given that most papers may have people locally who they dare not cross, what is to prevent big papers from putting smaller offices in other cities and publishing a local edition having one different section, in competition to the local rag? They could much more readily go hammer and tong after the local big shots and crooks. Their higher corporate officers would play golf with a different set.

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Q2 October 13, 2012 at 2:29 pm

The PC is a temple. Monks wash feet of local lords. McConnell. Harrell. Limehouse. Merrill. PC bends like green grasses in a windy field. Obedient, supple, unconscious, unconcerned.

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Salt Marsh October 14, 2012 at 1:52 am

Speaking of corruption in the lowcountry, for a few favors — like those Paul Thurmond threw County Council Chairman Teddy Pryor for Thurmond’s $100,000 “consulting fee” — Pryor will do practically anything.

Here’s Pryor’s latest betrayal of the public trust. This sell-out is worth a new Boston Whaler delivered to his brother-in-law, or at least the latest 3-D plasma large-screen TV. Plus a set of new Michelins for every car in the Pryor family… That’s the way it goes in Charleston: “deeply flawed.” For the time being.

@@@@@

The Post and Courier
Chairman Pryor’s $11.6 million bludgeon, Editorial
Sunday, October 14, 2012

Charleston County staff has been instructed to examine options related to I-526 in the wake of the state highway commission’s decision not to sponsor the project. Not surprisingly, Council Chairman Teddie Pryor, who ordered the review, is mainly interested in options to finish the project.

Mr. Pryor outlined his expectations for extending I-526 in a letter to the editor published Thursday on our Opinion page. Co-signed by Council Vice Chairman Elliott Summey, the letter called the project a “critical piece of our region’s infrastructure.”

Mr. Pryor should be reminded that the majority of County Council doesn’t necessarily share his view. Council rejected the I-526 extension in 2011, and only agreed to back off after a member of the State Infrastructure Bank (SIB) said the county would be liable for $11.6 million already spent on the project. Altogether, the SIB has committed $558 million to the extension of I-526, also known as the Mark Clark Expressway.

And even then council didn’t endorse the project. It merely kept it on life support while the highway commission considered whether to take on the proposal.

Now that the highway is back in the county’s court, Mr. Pryor is again raising the $11.6 million specter. In his letter, he stated that “there are serious enforcement provisions in the Mark Clark contract, including the power of the SIB to intercept funds due to the county from the state, if the county were to refuse a demand by the SIB to repay a default.”

He added, “It has thus been clear for more than 18 months that the SIB feels Charleston County will be responsible for the reimbursement of the $11.6 million spent to date if we do not find a way to move forward.”

But an analysis of the $11.6 million question by Christopher DeScherer of the Southern Environmental Law Center concludes that the SIB spokesman and Mr. Pryor are greatly overstating the case. Indeed, he concludes that the $11.6 million threat and an assertion that a breach of the debt could damage the county’s credit rating are “baseless attempts to intimidate the county into continuing to pursue a deeply flawed project.”

“If the county again selects the no-build alternative based on the lack of transportation benefits of the Mark Clark Expressway, the expensive price tag and unclear funding picture, the lack of public support or any other legitimate reason, such a decision will not violate or break any provision of the Intergovernmental Agreement” with the SIB, Mr. DeScherer wrote.

He cited federal rules requiring the kind of careful review, including public input, that led up to the county’s initial rejection of the project. Any attempt to force repayment would effectively short-circuit the due diligence undertaken by the county, in violation of those rules, he concluded.

The Law Center’s brief was prepared at the request of the Coastal Conservation League, an opponent of the project.

Of course, the $11.6 million threat isn’t the only pressure being applied since the highway commission sent the plan back to County Council. Indeed, there are concerted campaigns on both sides of the issue.

The SIB demand can only be settled by mutual agreement or in court. But Mr. DeScherer’s extensively researched and persuasive analysis should at least ease council’s collective mind on the $11.6 million bludgeon that periodically has been flourished over its head.

And that should promote clear thinking by council on this controversial issue. Council’s judgment shouldn’t be clouded by unwarranted duress.

Nor should the county staff’s review of council’s options be driven by Chairman Pryor’s devotion to the project.

He represents one of nine votes on council, not the last word.

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Eye Spy October 14, 2012 at 9:24 am

Teddy Pryor will fall with many of the others. 2013 is going to be a very interesting year.

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Of a different opinion October 16, 2012 at 9:27 am

I admit that I have no idea what happened behind the closed doors of the P&C as it relates to Harrell. But what I CAN tell you, with every ounce of my being, is that Dudley has been inaccurate before. This sugary portrayl is only one perspective. In fact, because of her failure to accurately fact check an article and provide time for response (she didn’t even give two hours to look through 10 years worth of data for 10 people- oh, and NEVER said she was on deadline for the next day), she ended up reporting bad data and was looking at a law suit the following day for libel. A person she named as being fradulent in the article began to lose clients, aka revenue, the day the article ran. That was the first, and probably the last, time I was able to call the P&C and order a corrective story like a pizza. They knew they were wrong; but it was the source of the data they blamed the next day, not the fact that Dudley had not done her due diligience in checking that data. She didn’t even come to me directly for the information- she carbon copied me on a request to a third party! Don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m pretty sure that email etiquette states a cc is NOT an action item for the person copied. And, don’t most reporters let the source know when they need something by, particularly if it’s for tomorrow? Don’t most reporters select “couldn’t be reached for comment” vs. “refused to comment” if they simply hadn’t heard back? Word choice was always a favorite weapon of hers. Had she done this diligence, I personally would have been able to stop her from writing a libelous story the first time and saved the paper from having egg on its face the next day. In most of my experiences, she was unnecessarily combative with my sources, agenda-driven and duplicitus in her activity- she outright lied to me and others on numerous occasions, for no real reason. Some of you might think, well, ok, no big deal, she was getting the story. Others of you might realize that burning bridges with the gatekeepers of the info/sources you need isn’t good business. And let’s not be mistaken folks- news IS a business, unless you are Politico. Relationships are EVERYTHING. You can be investigative, and still be ethical and pleasant to work with- just ask Tony Bartelme or Doug Pardue. I pride myself on being a communication professional interested in transperency at all times, and I respect the job that my journlaist counterparts must do. If it’s ugly, I may not be happy about giving you the info, but my credibility and that of my org is on the line if I don’t. I’m a student of history there- why dodge or lie when you WILL get found out? Your credibility is everything, and the only path to an org’s recovery if someone screws up. On the other hand, professional courtesy and ethical behavior on the part of the journalist are also a must. And I’m not sure who Fitts sources at the paper are, but my sources tell me that a cry of “Ding dong the witch is dead” went up when she left because of her unethical behavior and unprofessional tactics.

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