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City of Columbia, S.C. mayor Steve Benjamin is as crooked as they come. In fact were it not for some seriously corrupt “police work,” he never would have become mayor in the first place.

Anyway …

Benjamin’s reelection this November is all but guaranteed, which is why his supporters have been focusing their efforts on strengthening his political hand via a “strong mayor” referendum. This would basically flip a wide range of administrative authority from Columbia city council and place it into Benjamin’s hands.

Why would anyone want to do that?

It’s not clear. Benjamin has been blowing city money left and right on all sorts of questionable expenses – while letting core functions like public safety (and the city’s sewer system) go to sh*t.

Frankly it amazes us so many Columbia-area luminaries – including former “Republican” attorney general Henry McMaster – are in the tank for this crook.

To get their proposal on the ballot “strong mayor” supporters have had to gather signatures – 11,000 to be precise. Earlier this week they boasted of clearing this threshold by more than 1,500 signatures – which McMaster termed an “unprecedented” display of public support.

Really?

Sources tell FITS a group of pro-Benjamin insiders – including “Republican” political consultant Richard Quinn, local crony capitalist Ike McLeese, big government public relations executive Lee Bussell and longtime tax hike supporter Heyward Bannister – organized a “pay-for-signature” drive in which a “sub-group” affiliated with an Atlanta-based ballot firm doled out $3.00 per signature.

That’s totally illegal, of course … not unlike the blatant election fraud which took place in Richland County last November when Benjamin, Quinn, McLeese, Bussell and Bannister pushed the “passage” of a $1.2 billion sales tax.

Who helped them pull off that scam? Former Richland County elections director Lillian McBride – who was caught red-handed shortchanging anti-tax districts of their legally requires allotment of voting machines. This led to wait times of up to seven hours in some anti-tax precincts and the widespread disenfranchisement of anti-tax voters.

So … guess who is helping to certify petition signatures for this latest scam?

You guessed it, McBride …

mcbride

Amazing …

This woman should be in jail right now, not validating signatures to place a scam measure on the ballot.

Democracy is dead in South Carolina’s state capital. What those in power want, those in power take … and there’s literally no one willing to stand up and hold them accountable for it.