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Bill Sandifer

The son of a powerful South Carolina lawmaker is reportedly lobbying members of the S.C. General Assembly – asking them to kill a pro-business bill that’s likely to come before his father’s committee.

Several S.C. lawmakers and lobbyists are confirming to FITS that Wes Sandifer – son of liberal Republican Bill Sandifer (RINO-Oconee) – is lobbying on behalf of insurance giant S.C. Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which has a boatload of business before the elder Sandifer’s committee.

We reported four months ago on the proximity issues raised by this arrangement – although Sandifer’s allies claimed at the time that the lawmaker’s son was not a lobbyist and merely did “grassroots” work for the government relations firm employed by Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Now, multiple sources have confirmed to FITS that Wes Sandifer – who is still not listed on the State Ethics Commission website as a registered lobbyist – is directly seeking to influence the outcome of a specific piece of legislation. In fact, he’s allegedly seeking to kill a bill that could dramatically lower health care costs for individual citizens and small businesses in the Palmetto state.

The legislation – sponsored by S.C. Sen. Mike Rose – is simple and straightforward. It would permit out-of-state insurers to offer health care plans in South Carolina, thus increasing competition and lowering costs. A former priority of GOP presidential nominee John McCain, the concept of has been endorsed in the current presidential race by former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, among others.

Assuming the legislation passes the State Senate (and that’s a big “if”), Rose’s bill would be referred to the Labor, Commerce and Industry (LCI) committee, which the elder Sandifer chairs.

Sandifer made headlines last year when news broke about a near fatal “accident” that befell him on a taxpayer-funded trip to Panama. Details are still hazy about exactly what happened to him, but individuals who accompanied Sandifer on the September 2010 junket say that the 68-year-old lawmaker was attacked in his hotel room by an unknown female assailant.

Given the questionable circumstances surrounding the alleged assault, several lawmakers began an informal ethics investigation into Sandifer’s conduct. Unfortunately, S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell shut down the inquiry.

According to legislative scorecards released in 2009 by the S.C. Club for Growth – Sandifer received the second-worst score of any Republican in the S.C. General Assembly for his votes on fiscal issues. On the group’s 2010 report cards, he received the worst score of any GOP lawmaker.

A top lieutenant of Harrell’s, Sandifer has landed in hot water in the past for his controversial views on race – although he once told his colleagues that he was “thrilled” by the attention he received after a racist flier was discovered on his desk in 2008.

A spokesman for S.C. Blue Cross Blue Shield did not immediately respond to our request for comment.


Pic: Travis Bell Photography