The arrest of S.C. Rep. Ted Vick (D-Chesterfield) on drunk driving charges – his second driving under the influence (DUI) charge in less than a year – is big news in the Palmetto State. Potentially bigger news, though? The story behind a remark that Vick casually made to the officers who arrested him on the grounds of the S.C. State House last week.
“Mr. Vick was also asked if he would normally drive in his current state, ” the incident report from Vick’s arrest notes.
“No, I have drivers.”
That’s an interesting comment when you stop and think about it, isn’t it? Like most ethically challenged South Carolina lawmakers, Vick is doing a lot better for himself than the poor saps he represents. But is he wealthy enough to have a team of chauffeurs carting him to and fro every time he gets hammered?
So … what exactly did Vick mean when he said “I have drivers?” To whom was he referring?
According to our sources, Vick was likely referencing the S.C. House Sergeant at Arms’ office – which is responsible for providing security to members of the House when they come to Columbia, S.C. on legislative business. But “security” apparently isn’t the only taxpayer funded service the Sergeant at Arms’ office provides.
The office also runs “a late night taxi service for drunk lawmakers and their mistresses,” one lawmaker explained to FITS, adding that lobbyists and other special interests also routinely get taken along for rides.
Multiple lawmakers confirmed to FITS that the Sergeant at Arms’ office maintains a fleet of government funded vehicles which ferry lawmakers – mostly Democrats like Vick and S.C. Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter (D-Orangeburg) – to and from various special interest receptions and downtown Columbia, S.C. bars.
“They go wherever the members tell them to go,” another lawmaker said.
The exact number of vehicles assigned to this taxpayer-funded taxi service (or the cost billed to taxpayers for its provision) is not known, but one lawmaker familiar with the operation tells FITS the House fleet consists of “several (Ford) Crown Vics and two (Chevy) Tahoes.” A similar fleet is maintained for use by members of the South Carolina Senate.
FITS is preparing freedom of information act (FOIA) requests for both the S.C. House and Senate Sergeants at Arms’ offices in an attempt to determine the extent to which taxpayer funded resources are being used to cart drunk lawmakers around the State Capitol. More importantly, we’re also seeking trip logs and other information to determine which lawmakers are abusing this service.
Stay tuned …