Chip Felkel – an Upstate “Republican” consultant who seems to specialize in self-promotion as much as government expansion – was recently rejected as the lead consultant on a Lexington County tax hike campaign.

From talking to insiders, the leaders of the movement did not feel as though Felkel had the right type of political experience – having admitted in a meeting his lack of experience in winning capital project sales tax campaigns.

There’s a bigger, more interesting at work though.

Our sources tell us Felkel was recommended by individuals involved with the uber-liberal S.C. Association of Counties – a glorified taxpayer-funded lobby group.

You may ask: Why does the S.C. Association of Counties care who runs a Lexington County tax hike campaign? Good question.

Bill Banning, who is currently seeking re-election to his Lexington County council seat, was reportedly the one pushing Felkel. In fact Banning may have been pushing Felkel in order to receive his own piece of the action.

Felkel recently produced a television commercial for the S.C. Association of Counties (in cooperation with the Conservation Voters of South Carolina) because these groups were losing a lobbying effort before the S.C. General Assembly on an unrelated issue.

The Conservation Voters group is run by liberal Democrat Ann Timberlake – whose organization has had its share of credibility issues in the past.

FITS is planning on sending a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) letter to both groups regarding this expenditure – but we’re not holding our breath for these people to disclose what they did.

We suspect these groups used your tax money to subsidize their liberal agendas. In fact we are hearing reports that the S.C. Association of Counties may have spent as much as $500,000 to purchase its television ads.

Anyway … several of the local chamber executives were concerned that Felkel did not have a feel for the area and his proposal. And so they rejected his bid – despite the political pressure to hire him.

In addition to Banning, these sources tell FITS Joe Mergo – Lexington County’s administrator (and the son-in-law of State Sen. Nikki Setzler) was also pushing the county to hire Felkel.

Mergo and the Council have already committed to spend around $450,000 with a Rock Hill outfit, Reliance Engineering, to work on this issue.

Stay tuned … we will continue to report on this project, and on other so-called “Republicans” getting hired (or trying to get hired) to run tax hike campaigns.