The “Queen Jean” Scheme: An Update
WE FOUND THE “QUID”
Last week this website exposed an alleged plot involving S.C. Chief Justice Jean Toal and legislative leaders – a rumored back room deal aimed at extending her term in office.
Under current law Toal must retire when she reaches 72 years of age if she wants to draw benefits from the state’s pension fund. If this law remains in place, Toal has said she will not seek another ten-year term in 2014. However one ethically compromised lawyer-legislator has sponsored a bill eliminating this exemption – reportedly in response to entreaties from the 69-year-old chief justice.
Assuming this law passes – and we have every expectation that it will – Toal would be able to serve out another ten-year term.
What did Toal offer lawmakers, though? What was the “quid” to this “quo?”
According to multiple sources in the judicial and legislative branches of government, Toal has reportedly agreed to sit on a hugely controversial lawsuit involving exemptions to the state’s sales tax code. Currently South Carolina exempts around $2.7 billion in sales tax revenue annually – compared to the $2.2 billion it collects. Some of these exemptions benefit all South Carolinians – and promote our state’s competitiveness – however many are narrowly tailored to specific special interests and work against our state’s economic well-being.
Were Toal to throw out all of them – as she wanted to do several years ago – lawmakers would find themselves in a very difficult spot.
We’ve consistently maintained that our state’s tax code is a disincentive to jobs and investment – as well as raising income levels in our dirt poor state. To fix it, lawmakers must go through each one of these exemptions and determine whether it is beneficial to the state as a whole or nothing but a special interest bailout.
Obviously they don’t want to do that … and Toal seems perfectly willing to enable them in their laziness, so long as they give her another decade on the bench.
Corrupt? Absolutely … but par for the course in South Carolina.