Dear Editor, Today, the man that led the charge against the federal government for decades in South Carolina in effect announced he would bring the United States Justice Department into the heart of the South Carolina House of Representatives, and by implication the South Carolina Supreme Court, and sing like a canary. In fiction, this is the part of the movie where Al Pacino shoots the rat in the back of the head. In reality Harrell will likely move far away and live comfortably where no one knows his name, while the taxpayers and businesses of South Carolina deal with the widespread fallout of his criminal activity and unwillingness to be held accountable for it. The irony of a man who fought transparency and good government at every turn personally bringing in the only entity with authority to bring in the sunlight and send everyone to jail is not lost on me. I suppose there is some justice in that now every time anyone drives by the Robert Harrell interchange, they will immediately remember the corrupt politician that sided with the feds to save his own hide instead of his well-regarded father.
For decades Bobby Harrell opposed every federal action in the book, repeatedly funding the Attorney General’s Office to bring unwinnable, politically motivated lawsuits on a myriad of issues, while passing all sorts of unneeded declarations and crony capitalist laws and tax breaks. It is not immediately intuitive that the most damaging thing that a person who has done so much to hold back the free market and subvert the democratic process could do is plead guilty and turn state’s evidence against his former friends and colleagues, many of whom he will out and out rat on in the coming days if he has not already, but it is true. The reality is that Bobby Harrell has just done more damage to the reliability and predictability of South Carolina’s business climate than any amount of federal regulation ever could.
The only thing more pervasive than the collective pants shitting coming from the State House right now is the paralyzing impact these prosecutions are going to have on the South Carolina economy. It has been a generation since the political elite in South Carolina have allowed a chink in their collective armor to allow the federal government the leverage that it now has over the General Assembly. It will be a miracle if every single committee chair in the House is not implicated in some way, after all, how did they gets those chairs? The scrutiny will be withering and comprehensive. Anyone who took any money from his leadership PAC will be guilty by association if not in fact. The entirety of State Government will remain paralyzed, not wanting to act until the cards fall. We will see no meaningful action from the General Assembly or Supreme Court on any big issue until this is resolved, which could take years.
The entire Ways and Means Committee in particular will be under intense scrutiny, meaning State budget writers, and the moneyed interests that lobby so hard to direct public dollars into the pockets of legislators and themselves, just went into a frantic, everyman for themselves zone defense. And that is to say nothing of the race to fill Harrell’s seat. If you watch it repeatedly, there is actually a predictable pattern to the way roaches scatter when the lights come on.
While I frequently disagree with the federal government, Bobby Harrell and his corrupt colleagues in the South Carolina House have had a much greater negative impact on my wallet and State than the feds ever could.
-“Sir Ernest Shackleton”
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