SC

Federal Probe Targeting Multiple SC Lawmakers

OPERATION “LOST TRUST II?” A quarter century after Operation Lost Trust snared seventeen South Carolina lawmakers in a sweeping public corruption sting, sources tell FITS another major bust is about to go down under the S.C. State House dome. Federal investigators are currently conducting a probe of “multiple” current and…

OPERATION “LOST TRUST II?”

A quarter century after Operation Lost Trust snared seventeen South Carolina lawmakers in a sweeping public corruption sting, sources tell FITS another major bust is about to go down under the S.C. State House dome.

Federal investigators are currently conducting a probe of “multiple” current and former members of the S.C. General Assembly, sources familiar with the investigation tell FITS.

Also, two lawmakers who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed to FITS that they have received calls regarding the probe.

What are they looking for?

The probe is said to focus on two areas – misuse of campaign funds and abusing one’s public office for personal gain.  It’s not immediately clear how many state lawmakers are being investigated – or whether the list includes powerful S.C. Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell, who suspended himself from office last week after he was indicted on nine counts of public corruption.

FITS has been able to independently confirm that Harrell – who is still receiving GOP support in the wake of his indictment – has been interviewed at least once by federal officials.

Lawmakers habitually use their campaign accounts for personal purposes – or they find creative ways to “reimburse” themselves from their campaign accounts.  In 2012, S.C. Lt. Gov. Ken Ard resigned after being indicted on a cash-for-contributions scam exposed exclusively by FITS.  That investigation uncovered multiple instances of personal items being purchased with campaign money.

Meanwhile Harrell’s indictment involves – among other things – questionable travel reimbursements filed on his state campaign disclosure forms.  Also Brian White – the chief budget writer in the S.C. House – has some campaign finance issues which were glossed over in 2011 by the same corrupt legislative “ethics” panel that whitewashed Gov. Nikki Haley‘s corruption case in 2012.

So … which lawmakers will be getting pinched?  Stay tuned … we’ll let you know as soon as we learn more.

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78 comments

Michael J. Stefonick September 15, 2014 at 6:56 pm

The buddy system of State Reps, Judges, and Major Law Firms has gone on for years. It’s time to clean up the filth that controls this state.

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well-i-am into it September 16, 2014 at 1:04 pm

It is also the abject failure of public to vigorously participate in and protect their democracy. It is important to speak with your vote people. We have frequent elections, do we not? Feds cannot do everything and do not have limitless resources to look under every rock. It is largely up to the public and folks with some inside knowledge of the filth, to pass on the info to public via the media or any other means and out them. It will take the effort from all of us to rid ourselves of this pestilence. I am sure you are also urging all of us to take responsibility for safeguarding our democracy.

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nettwench14 September 17, 2014 at 6:25 pm

They participate,. Republicans here participate in voting for anyone with an R beside their name no matter how corrupt. They voted for Sanford after he walked off duty and used state funds to carry out an affair. They will vote for Haley again even though she is an unethical lying biyatch who will run someone down if they get between her and a corporate handout. Who banishes Democrats from public events.

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Todd September 15, 2014 at 7:04 pm

If the Feds don’t take down Toal, Leatherman and Harrell and only get a few of the little guys, it will all be for naught.

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Soft Sigh from Hell September 15, 2014 at 7:57 pm

Didn’t they mostly target black legislators in Lost Trust?

Who was that white skunk in the Pee Dee (Bennetsville?) who was guilty as sin and got away . . . only to die soon after.

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Remembers It Well September 15, 2014 at 8:05 pm

No. They were equal opportunity targets. The majority were white.

You are speaking of Former Sen. John (Jack) Lindsey of Marlboro Co.

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Soft Sigh from Hell September 15, 2014 at 8:13 pm

I would have never remembered his name, although I think I can picture his face.

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Doris September 15, 2014 at 9:28 pm

What ever happened to Lindsey’s girlfriend? I heard she had written a book, but couldn’t get it published.

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anonymous September 16, 2014 at 9:07 am

She got a sweet state government job and has kept her mouth shut like the good little girl she was not when she was the most powerful mistress at the state house when Jack was alive. I can still see her at a table in the back of Columbia’s Restaurant in Coplon’s finest clothes holding court with Jack in some pastel blue sport coat buying everyone another round.

Dice Man September 15, 2014 at 8:14 pm

Amen on Toal, Leatherman, and Harrell, but what about Reynolds Williams and some of those other floaters clinging to this axis of evil.

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D-HE with um September 16, 2014 at 6:59 am

You left out Harvey Peeler! The way he and his brother Bob Peeler are trying to turn South Carolina into the worlds cesspool, by importing human and any other trash they can find, into SC is deplorable.
Cross their palms with a little silver and the gig is up. These two would sell their mother for a piece of tail or silver for their pockets.

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??????? September 16, 2014 at 9:28 am

I remember Sen. Cromer being mentioned in the Lexington illegal gambling ring with Metts and Frazier.

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Don't Call Me Governor September 15, 2014 at 7:09 pm

If would be nice if the Feds could take down a former House Member hired for “connections” in the words of the employer.

What is the Statute of Limitations on such a crime?

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nitrat September 16, 2014 at 8:26 am

THAT should have been the case that grabbed their attention.

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fedup September 15, 2014 at 7:15 pm

Are these the same FEDS that allowed the systemic discrimination of political minorities by the IRS?

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Cannibalism September 15, 2014 at 7:33 pm

Yep. It’s simply one, bigger cockroach, coming to nibble the legs off a couple of others.

It’s a good thing, but cockroaches breed faster than they can be killed, so it’s hopeless in the long run.

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Back September 16, 2014 at 10:47 am

The specialist in cockroaches is back , I see. With a very wise , educated, intellectual statement. LOL! Really, they breed faster than they can be killed?? The cockroaches miss you a lot , go back to West Columbia…

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Mike at the Beach September 15, 2014 at 8:35 pm

It’s an “enemy of my enemy” kinda thing.

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SC Political Digest September 15, 2014 at 7:20 pm

The Obama Administration investigating SC legislators. LMAO…He better launch soon, because if he waits passed Nov. 4, the US House and Senate, may light up your stupid and corrupt Democrat @$$#$….

Without ignorant leftist idiots running either body, Obama might get his @$$ waxed. Ya’ll try to litigate, or investigate what you can’t manipulate through crooked judges and partisan justice. I got a feelin’ all that’s getting ready to back on this Dumb@$$ you’ve elected emperor.

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shifty henry September 15, 2014 at 7:45 pm

Any mention of sex toys, aids, and porn?

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aikencounty September 15, 2014 at 8:43 pm

So, the FED’s are looking at nooky NIMRATA?

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Greed September 15, 2014 at 8:02 pm

Its been floating around for months. 3 a.m. raids will be taking place soon. The cellphone conversations after Harrell was indicted ….. the fools said too much this time? Beach Company? I-526 proponents … Leatherman … Slimehouse? Bobby Harrell’s son? Elliot Summey?

Here is comes – dozens of search warrants – dozens being arrested.

Harrell will be doing time in the federal penitentiary.

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GO FEDS! September 15, 2014 at 8:11 pm

WOW! i didn’t think of exactly it’ll go down, but, hey, you’re right – search warrants. computer hard drives, cell phones, phone bills, AMEX bills, Harrell’s son, Elliot summey, personal expenses – I LIKE IT! GO FEDS!

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Greed September 15, 2014 at 8:32 pm

After Harrell gloating that the grand jury investigation had ended, that Wilson was off the case, etc ……. Then out of the blue, Wilson caught them all off guard and had Solicitor Pascoe surprised the hell out of everyone in the legislature with the indictments. Nice way to rattle numerous cages of those who are connected with Harrell’s ring.

So who in Boobys circle of cronies has the balls to sing like a canary and get a reduced sentence before it all comes crashing down?

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Dan on Devine September 15, 2014 at 9:25 pm

Jean Toal? Street talk in the bars is she has turned on Harrell, but is firmly defending all things Clyburn.

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Huh?? September 16, 2014 at 9:33 am

What about Elliot Summey?

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Soft Sigh from Hell September 15, 2014 at 8:11 pm

We can all hope.

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Guest September 15, 2014 at 10:02 pm

This may come as a surprise to some but word on the street is that a certain constitutional officer may be investigated.

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Probes September 16, 2014 at 5:47 am

GM

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Paul September 16, 2014 at 7:38 am

Curtis Loftis and his violations of SEC rules!

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Curtis sux September 16, 2014 at 8:58 am

Clean house on all of them!

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Take him out September 16, 2014 at 9:25 pm

He’s got to be the next one.

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Kennedy September 20, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Don’t you wish.
Loftis is the guy pushing the investigations. If we had more like him we would not be like a third world country.

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Kennedy is curt September 20, 2014 at 9:05 pm

Oh, Melvin, you just don’t stop, do you? We all know you for what you really are: corrupt, hypocritical narcissist. Stop trying to toot your own horn, it’s really very unbecoming. Come January, you will be exposed. Albeit another embarrassment for SC, it will be done.

Soft Sigh From Hell September 15, 2014 at 8:35 pm

I wonder what proportion of SC lawmakers and their staffs regularly check this site, most especially when there is a story like this one?

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aikencounty September 15, 2014 at 8:45 pm

Could ya’ll send the FED’s on down to North Augusta?
Need them to look into the riverfront ball field, TEF, blighted land scam.

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Curious George September 15, 2014 at 9:02 pm

Campaign donations are just another way to dish out kickbacks and bribes. Harrell was openly cashing in. What I want to know is the dark secrets. He constructed an empire of sorts while at the helm of the house of representatives. Many of his fellow lawmakers are wrapped up in it. We all know that. Thing is, just how bad is it? What Harrell was caught doing, I think is only a drop in the bucket. Its all been running amok for many many years.

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Manray September 15, 2014 at 9:29 pm

I guess every few years the feds have to come to Columbia for a housecleaning because we can’t (or won’t) do it ourselves. Too bad we won’t see indictments before all the malefactors are re-elected — and they are always re-elected.

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Just another guy September 15, 2014 at 9:41 pm

Only if it takes them all down. Let’s start over please. TIA

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ScrewedNSC September 15, 2014 at 10:12 pm

Time for Will to name names!

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Guest September 15, 2014 at 10:19 pm

Word is that Ed Givens is eating cheese all over Columbia. It was part of his deal to avoid Federal time.

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Joe Friday September 15, 2014 at 10:55 pm

Who’s he?

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Whois September 16, 2014 at 6:22 am

SC State University. Tens of millions mysteriously went missing over there.

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Guest September 16, 2014 at 9:47 am

Also, but prior to pleading guilty, was a Statehouse lobbyist for lots of monied interests. Worked for McNair firm, lobbied for USC, all sorts of others lined up at the trough at the Capitol. All around crook, and running partner with da Mayor of Columbia.

http://www.zoominfo.com/p/Edwin-Givens/27533395

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laughing my ass off September 15, 2014 at 10:54 pm

The guilty must be in panic mode tonight. And it’ll be so easy to convict. Wire fraud and mail fraud are “the prosecutor’s best friends” and easiest to get a guilty verdict. Jurors answer one simple question:

“Was this (income tax return, bribe, falsified document, whatever) placed in the mail (or FedEx, DHL, etc.) or transmitted electronically (faxed, scanned, emailed, etc.)?”

And federal judges will instruct the jury to answer that single question only for wire/mail fraud.

The rats will devour one another trying to avoid jail. Courts can reverse asset transfers occurring ninety days prior to indictments, so there goes the house. Then there’s the race for the most powerful lawyers like Gedney Howe, who charge $600 an hour, with a bottomless budget, so there goes the cash, including the IRA. Finally there’s the wife, girlfriend, children, church, friends, business, job, elected position — all of which will go bye-bye when the ax falls. This is as good as All the President’s Men. Golly, how many crooks went to jail in that sting?

I’m laughing my ass off.

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Larry Bishop September 16, 2014 at 12:12 am

Lets see Harrell is about to cut a deal yall ….Hope he names Haley as the first contender to be investigated.

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laughing my ass off September 16, 2014 at 1:12 am

Harrell has already been indicted by a state grand jury. He may be tried in both state and federal venues. But in any case he’s been at the top of the food chain, and there’s nobody he can tag, including the governor.

Harrell has a big problem with small people: secretaries, receptionists, bookkeepers, airplane mechanics, people who put gas in his airplane, people who prepared his personal and business tax returns (state and federal), local bank managers… None of them are going to perjure themselves under oath; they will squeal.

The squealing comes when a host of people are indicted and the small ones rat on the big ones to keep out of jail. The big ones could include not just legislators but also county councilmen, city councilmen, and board members to local and state agencies. In this article, regarding a federal investigation, especially if they manage federal funds. Like for building a road or an airport runway.

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ScrewedNSC September 16, 2014 at 3:23 am

This is not always the case. The ones who cooperate get a reduced sentence. The big guys a lot of the time snitch on the little guys. The Feds don’t care. Crime is crime.

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In The Darkness of the Night September 16, 2014 at 6:17 am

That’s why you take one of the main rats down first (Harrell). The others scramble in confusion and panic – not knowing if those within their trusted circle have turned informant. Federal probes sometimes have taken place for years before actually arrest are made.

For many moons, Harrell and his elected cronies have been controlling tens of billions of tax dollars and receiving millions each year in campaign donations from vultures wanting a share of it. Years of their criminal schemes and shenanigans have very likely come home to roost. There might not be federal raids and arrest next week, or even next month. But I am willing to beat, that as sure as the sun rises each morning, it will eventually happen. Remember, the DOJ in Washington has reportedly and allegedly been getting emails and calls from quite a few fed up citizens of South Carolina.

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WW September 16, 2014 at 6:33 am

The people need term limits and recall elections. We cannot wait for years on the Feds!
We need the ability to police those, who REFUSE to police themselves!

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Get 'em all September 16, 2014 at 7:12 am

How about Curtis Loftis’s personal attorney making off with over $2 million out of the Bank of New York settlement they negotiated? Lots to look at in good ole SC!

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LMAO September 16, 2014 at 8:55 am

Slick ole Curtis should be shaking in his shoes right about now. Haven’t you been wondering why his trusty hatchet man, bill Leidinger quit last December? He knew he better get out before it all hits the fan. Hopefully when Curtis goes down, they will take his little flock of she-devils, too. That office is full of corruption.

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Got that right September 16, 2014 at 9:23 pm

“She-devils” OMG! I don’t think I have ever laughed so hard. You nailed that one!

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ScrewedNSC September 16, 2014 at 9:25 am

Are to referring to honest Mike Montgomery? From RSD2 school Board Member and County Council Member.

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John September 20, 2014 at 2:53 pm

Not as bad as Leatherman sending his close friend Reynolds Williams 6 million in state business over the last 5 years.

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John is the bug man September 20, 2014 at 9:00 pm

Bet the bug man gets indicted before the senator.

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Native Ink September 16, 2014 at 7:20 am

Where’s Scooter?

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Do You Play Clue? September 16, 2014 at 8:16 am

After Scooter’s (anonymous) non stop months of uncontrollable diarrhea of the mouth in support of the Robert “Capone” Harrell, Scooter apparently has decided it to be in his own best interest to invoke the 5th.

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WW September 16, 2014 at 7:44 am

This is the kind of thing which happens when the “Fox guards the Hen House”!
The self policing and judging of the Legislature, by the House and Senate ethics committees is a JOKE! They do not Police, they COVER each other and turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the ethics failures and illegal activities of their brothers and sisters in crime.
The entire system and all within it need to be swept clean!

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Sleuth September 16, 2014 at 7:45 am

The I-525 Boondoggle in Charleston now under threat of being stopped. Rumors flying that SC State Infrastructure Bank suspected of possibly being part of federal probe. SC roads fast crumbling, putting drivers more at risk of injuries and death.

“Who’s the more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him? — Obi-Wan Kenobi

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Native Ink September 16, 2014 at 6:18 pm

I hope those rumors are true. By the time it’s done, we should have a bi-partisan gang going to jail.Teddy Pryor, Anna Johnson, and Leon Stavrinakis are Democrats, at least in name. Add in Republicans who have lied and twisted arms. To name a few: Larry Grooms, Chip Limehouse, and Eliot Sumney. I seriously doubt that most of these people have their hands clean.

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nitrat September 16, 2014 at 8:15 am

The largest public employee pension in the nation is getting out of hedge funds because of excessive fees and poor returns. Someone in SC needs to pay attention:

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/09/15/nations-biggest-pension-fund-to-end-hedge-fund-investments/?_php=true&_type=blogs&ref=business&_r=0

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Fool September 16, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Blah Bah, blah bah, blah bah, blah bah….boring…. boring… Why don’t you attend meetings and learn a bit… instead of posting on Fits, you are a fool.. Nobody is paying attention to you, Nitrat.. You are wasting your breath and your time.

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ReElect Nikki September 16, 2014 at 7:45 pm

Yeh he ought to attend your Tea Party meetings and learn the damn truth!

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Dang screw ups September 16, 2014 at 8:23 am

All of this bitching and moaning from people who continue to vote for the same old corrupt, unethical people and ideas over and over!
Where is the problem, look in the freaking mirror!
I DO NOT VOTE FOR INCUMBENTS GIVEN ANY ALTERNATIVE!!!

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idiotwind September 16, 2014 at 10:29 am

this is by far the most reasonable and non-radical solution to the problem of corruption (which is frankly perfectly natural and would not spare any of us given the opportunity). Do not vote for incumbents. Do not let pol tell you that party affiliation somehow makes a difference. vote for the guy or gal you like this time, then vote for their opponent next time. the very worst candidate will not end the US as we know it in only 4 or 6 years in office.

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Lee Bright & Ronnie Wilson September 16, 2014 at 9:17 am

Lee Bright is also reported to be investigated for his connection to Former Anderson Councilman and Ponzi Scheme mastermind Ron Wilson. Bright received contributions from Wilson, some of which were allegedly converted to his personal use. Wilson is apparently cooperating with agents to lower his own sentence and discussing his close connection with his fellow “confederate” Lee Bright, among others. Bright introduced legislation to allow SC to have its own currency, and the language of this resolution would have helped Wilson to sell more of his gold certificates by inducing elderly investors into thinking the state was going to a “state gold standard.”

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ScrewedNSC September 16, 2014 at 9:23 am

Tell me its not so!

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Philip Branton September 16, 2014 at 9:23 am

Come on Wil………….really..?

Promenade Landfill….??
Magnolia Paradise..??
CSX-Norfolk Southern Biedler Forest cabin..?
Port Royal Flush….?
Dubai Ports rail…?
Welford I-85 septic Spray….?
Horry Methane mist…?
Orangeburg Innovista ….?

…do we have to get into how the skim is being enjoyed over at a marina Puerto “Lets go”…? ….and you really think this money ( http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20140915/PC1603/140919621/1177 ) has not been milked since 1989..?

The real probe is crop dusting how the state’s media fog is for political cover and advertising leverage..!! Like a good neighbor…. your ISIS Statefarm political wink is there….!!!

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Rob Trippe September 16, 2014 at 9:56 am

The turds are circling the toilet bowl now, and I love it! Flush flush flush, go feds!!!

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TyroneMamaCollards September 16, 2014 at 1:27 pm

Now the Republicans get stung ! I have been asking for a probe on this website since last year.

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TontoBubbaGoldstein September 16, 2014 at 6:28 pm

I have been asking for a probe on this website since last year.

Maybe GrandTango can help you out there, son.

: D

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Ralph September 16, 2014 at 4:45 pm

Harrell would only be able to watch jets fly over his prison cell. No more flying himself. No more travel. No more restaurant meals. No more fun fishing on the 24-ft. inboard. No more ESPN or digital phone. boo hoo

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TontoBubbaGoldstein September 16, 2014 at 6:32 pm

…misuse of campaign funds and abusing one’s public office for personal gain.

Damn.
If they cart away all the politicians guilty of this…it will be a libertarian’s anarchist’s dream…

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ELCID September 17, 2014 at 11:10 am

I hope a Citadel Grad is in charge again.
Lost Trust, which jailed numerous crooked politicians, was led by a Citadel Grad.
The idea that you don’t “Lie, Cheat, Steal, or Tolerate those who do,” needs to be enforced on the State House Grounds to the Maximum.

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TheHorryCountyObservermk4 September 20, 2014 at 4:40 pm

Would it be too much to hope? That at least part of the state legislative delegation in Horry County. Winds up ensnared in this?

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Walk_The_Talk September 21, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Sorry, but yes that would be hoping for too much. 5 years, multiple hotshot investigators called in only to leave….the octopus that has the stranglehold over Horry’s residents now has its tentacles (plural) in DC. Rice, Clyburn and the power of the Chamber of “like minded” Commerce.
Some were hoping the Viers indictments would make the difference but that won’t make a bit of difference. How could violations of Federal Banking Laws, Federal Election Laws, Federal Tax Laws, etc be so blatantly violated, all without a single indictment resulting? The charter for that bank should have been revoked for failing to report those transactions that all occurred on the same day- attempting and succeeding in circumventing Federal Reporting Law. Instead that bank has opened new branches. Apparently Shep wasn’t the only “like minded” person on that board.
H#ll, if they took this group down, every GPS in the world would be wrong since they’d have to rename streets, colleges, museums, etc. Although corruption exists in every state, SC has them all beat by a mile. I’m trying to get out before the razor wire surrounds it. Had to lighten up a bit since the situation is so hopelessly depressing.

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TheHorryCountyObservermk4 September 26, 2014 at 4:03 pm

While all you say is very true. I still have to believe something will happen eventually.

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