The “Strong Mayor” Scam

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…

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.


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 …


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.

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Anonymous September 14, 2013 at 12:06 pm

You are willing to stand up and hold them accountable for it.

Henry Mixmaster (Slum lord) September 14, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Karma seems to have come around for McLeese, it appears. Funny thing is that Lee Bussell doesn’t even reside in the City of Columbia.

I’m still waiting for Moe and Shealy to drop the last-minute shitbomb on Benjamin.

Jay Ellington September 16, 2013 at 1:35 pm

T-bone Benjamin could strangle a baby minutes before the polls open, and by 9:30 that little cockbag Cameron would have wrapped up his spin campaign to make it look like the baby’s fault. We are doomed.

House for sale September 14, 2013 at 1:57 pm

The City of Cola has 130,000 people in it. One can spend the money on the citizens and their needs, OR, you can spend it on a handful of insiders. These insiders have gotten rich off the tax payer and will certainly get richer. With Benjamin they have the ultimate insider; a black democrat with a majority black electorate. Benjamin can take crookery to a new high.

The Quinns own Steve Benjamin, former Attorny General McMaster and current Attorney General Alan Wilson so it is like the mafia. No one will go to jail nor worry about it. It is open season on the taxpayers of Columbia. I am moving out as I have had enough.

CASH2 September 14, 2013 at 6:44 pm

Good Old Boys at it again. Stealing from the masses to feather their already comfortable nest.

With “get out of jail” cards issued by the AG, SLED and Leon Lott they can operate with impunity. Such organized cronyism is hard to believe but I have watched it for 15 years and it makes me sick.

Jay Ellington September 16, 2013 at 1:32 pm

You’re lucky you only have one house for sale.

disgustedbythem September 14, 2013 at 1:59 pm

I was approached at a gas station on Devine street by a couple that appeared to be living in their car. The guy asked me if I lived in the city of Columbia and had I signed the “strong mayor” petition. I told him no, that I only hoped we could get rid of the mayor we have. Meanwhile, the scaggy looking woman was asking someone for directions to Columbia Mall. Their trap of a car had Ga. plates. So they were from the Atl. based ballot firm. Scumbags hired by other scumbags. Don’t people like Benjamin and Co. ever get tired of the stealing, lying, sleaze, and corruption?

9" September 14, 2013 at 3:39 pm

That’s a beautiful story.Thanks for sharing.

Jay Ellington September 16, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Sounds like the same petition zombie “woman” that accosted me at Trenholm Plaza. I thought she was getting ready to ask me for money, when she launched into her scripted pitch to get me to sign. She probably wished she had just asked me for money.

9" September 14, 2013 at 3:35 pm Reply
Jay Ellington September 16, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Provocative. I was going to NWA wrestling matches in high school gymnasiums back in the early 80s as a youth. I met most of the people he mentions, because my mother worked with a woman that was a bit of a wrestling groupie. Ricky Steamboat, Rock and Roll Express, Midnight Express, Baron Von Raschke, Wahoo McDaniels, Greg Valentine, Road Warriors, Jimmy Valiant, Ric Flair, Blackjack Mulligan… you get the picture.

jimlewisowb September 14, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Betting my money on either the Bull Street Deal or the total collapse of the Sewer System to put Columbia ahead of Detroit as the most fucked up City in the United States

Dan on Divine September 14, 2013 at 8:59 pm

At the end of happy hour at Publik House last night – and this had nothing to do with the TWO ambulances out front – there was an argument between two brilliant, but drunk, local politico’s – over who was more corrupt – Steve Benjamin or Bob Coble or EW Cromatie. Several others joined in. Poor Bob Coble. It was the consensus, Bob was the most corrupt. Steve won’t talk to you, so he can’t lie to your face. EW told you to your face he is black and you are white and he is going to get as much white money as he can. He never lied about it. Bob? He would lie to your face like a cheap Two Notch Road Ho. He and Toal are so tight, she hired one of his kids and still has her on her payroll. Payment to Bob for making sure no record of Toal crashing TS’s Lexus never made the police reports and/or MSM. Great night. I woke up in time for the game, btw, boring as it is.

xx September 16, 2013 at 4:10 pm

cute name Dan on Devine

Jethro September 14, 2013 at 9:51 pm

Obama’s fault.

Jay Ellington September 16, 2013 at 2:33 pm

No, actually it’s the fault of a few registered voters of Richland county.

You know me September 14, 2013 at 9:55 pm

A man who will lie to his wife and kids will certainly lie to us taxpayers.

Elfego September 15, 2013 at 8:31 am

Paying for votes is as old as the ballot box itself. I doubt there are few places in America where this does not happen. Absentee ballots are bought often in about every election.Why do people think those who lost in Colorado recall were so upset. Not enough money was sent out there to get the process going.

CorruptionInColumbia September 15, 2013 at 3:47 pm

I appreciate Fits now more than ever, since The State has seen fit to join the growing number of “news” outlets which use Fecebook as their commenting vehicle, effectively killing anonymous posting and insider information about corrupt public (and private) officials.

The idiots are hell-bent on pushing this through. Why not just save the expense of voting every four years and crown Benjamin as goddamn king for life? This would save the dozen or so Columbia citizens who actually bother to go to the polls a trip and several thousand dollars which Benji and company could find a way to squander on another project that benefits them or their cronies.

Henry Mixmaster, Bon Vivant September 15, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Funny thing is that I remember Benjamin while I was at USC crowing about he was the “First Black Student Body President.” He wasn’t. The first was back in the early-mid 70’s. The funny thing is “I’m the First Black Mayor of Columbia” is the first thing out of his mouth every single time.

Henry Heidt and Bertram Rantin are in the bag for Benji. We should force The State to be head-quartered in the City Limits, since right now they enjoy being in unincorporated Richland County where they don’t have to deal with the City Government’s incompetence.

felling very bad about this September 15, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Benjamin at nuttin but the face of the Good Old Boys of Columbia.

Contractors, bond attorneys, lobbyist, vendors of all sorts will continue to cash in but now they will have fewer people to payoff.

Good day for cronies, bad day for taxpayers.

afmajret September 15, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Soon Columbia will have the same kind of outstanding municipal government we all witnessed in action in New Orleans during Katrina. Glad I live in Forest Acres.

Jay Ellington September 16, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Ray Nagin would be proud.

Follow the Benjamins September 16, 2013 at 7:26 am


Arlen Cooper September 16, 2013 at 5:07 pm

McBride just looks slouchy & lazy!

Jay Ellington September 17, 2013 at 2:06 pm

It’s because she is.

cootergate September 16, 2013 at 9:44 pm

Two words in support of the strong mayor system – Teresa Wilson.

Jackie Chiles September 17, 2013 at 11:52 am

The Strong Mayor approach seems to be working in Charleston and Greenville.

Jay Ellington September 17, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Steve Benjamin is no Knox White.

trolljamz September 18, 2013 at 12:24 am

Excuse my French, but this mayor is a real butthole.

Guest September 19, 2013 at 11:10 am

today’s state paper has Nicolas Sumbles, of Columbia on the cover collecting signatures. do a little google on him.

sscar September 19, 2013 at 11:14 am

So who is this Nicolas Sumbles, of Columbia on today’s State Newspaper?

sarscar September 19, 2013 at 11:47 am Reply

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