Call it a case of spontaneous political combustion …
As we predicted (here, here and here), S.C. Sen. Lee Bright’s campaign for the United States Senate went “boom” with the long-awaited release of his personal financial disclosure information to the Federal Election Commission (FEC)
The filing of this report – repeatedly delayed by Bright – revealed he owed at least $1.4 million to creditors as a result of his failed trucking business, On Time Trucking. Bright’s obligations could exceed $3 million, though.
(To view a .pdf of the form, click here).
Those figures are dramatically worse than the $318,000 referenced in this 2012 report on Bright’s personal finances.
Bright is also facing a transparency problem. In 2013, he participated in a voluntary income disclosure project organized by the S.C. Policy Council – which along with other groups is pushing for expanded income disclosure at the state level in response to abuses by S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley and others.
On the Policy Council’s form (.pdf file here), Bright failed to list income earned as a “business development” consultant with BBD LLC – a company owned by his campaign consultant, Michael Stevens.
Bright filled out his Policy Council form in 2013, while his association with Stevens’ firm began the previous year.
It’s not clear what kind of “business development” Bright is doing for Stevens’ firm, although a candidate working for a company owned by his political consultant (particularly one who already holds an elected office) would seem to raise a host of ethical questions.
Critics might allege Bright is turning campaign contributions into personal cash, for example.
Bright is one of four candidates challenging liberal U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham in next year’s Republican primary election for the Senate seat Graham has held since 2002. The others are Lowcountry businesswoman Nancy Mace, former congressional candidate Richard Cash and Orangeburg, S.C. attorney Bill Connor.
This website has repeatedly given Bright the benefit of the doubt regarding problems with his personal finances – arguing that times are tight and people everywhere are struggling. Obviously Bright’s issues are much bigger than we ever expected, though, and there certainly appear to be some issues regarding how forthcoming he has been related to his problems.
Bigger picture? Bright is now crippled as a candidate. For example, it’s next-to-impossible for him to adopt aggressive policy positions on deficit reduction – or at least do so with a shred of credibility.
UPDATE: Here’s Bright on Bright.