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Sources: SC State House “Probe” Focuses On Brian White, Lobbyist

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CAMPAIGN FINANCES, PROXIMITY TO “LOST TRUST” LOBBYIST AMONG ISSUES BEING EXPLORED

By FITSNEWS  ||  S.C. House ways and means chairman Brian White is one of the most powerful lawmakers in the Palmetto State.  His committee gets first crack at drafting South Carolina’s $25 billion (and growing) annual government budget – and the influence he wields as a result of this “purse power” is tremendous.

Behind S.C. Senate president/ finance committee chairman Hugh Leatherman (the undisputed king of the Palmetto State) and newly elected Speaker of the House Jay Lucas, White is the most influential lawmaker in the S.C. General Assembly.

But with great power comes great responsibility … and White has failed to live up to his end of the bargain when it comes to protecting the best interests of South Carolina citizens and taxpayers.

In addition to charting a special interest-driven, fiscally liberal, anti-competitive course for the Palmetto State ever since his ascension to the ways and means chairmanship in 2011, White has also run into several ethical problems along the way.

First there was the yet-to-be-investigated scandal regarding his alleged use of campaign funds for personal purposes – a story which broke the day after White was named ways and means chairman.

Aside from the 2012 whitewash of major ethics allegations against S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley, the ongoing cover-up of White’s 2011 scandal remains the most compelling example of South Carolina’s culture of corruption – in which powerful elected officials retain the ability to police themselves and decide what constitutes a violation of state law.

Given this shamefully corrupt self-policing construct, White’s open-and-shut case was never publicly investigated … let alone resolved.

More recently, White has been accused of funneling campaign funds to a charity which employs his wife, Courtney White.

Now, sources tell FITS White is among the lawmakers being targeted by an ongoing joint federal-state investigation.

In addition to probing White’s alleged campaign finance violations and his proximity to a controversial lobbyist (more on him in a moment), we’re told state and federal investigators are asking “serious questions” about White’s residency.

“He has a residency problem related to the investigation,” one official familiar with the probe told FITS.

The official declined to elaborate, although they encouraged us to explore White’s connections to the state’s nursing home industry.

“That’s really the root of his problems,” the official told us.

White does not list a home residence in the S.C. Legislative Manual – or his official bio page with the S.C. General Assembly.  In fact he hasn’t provided a home address for the last three years (ever since he became ways and means chairman) – one of the few lawmakers who neglects to do so.

Up until the 2009, he listed 2500 Edgewood Avenue in Anderson, S.C. as his home address.

Here’s that location …

(Click to enlarge)

2500 Edgewood

(Pic: Google)

And here’s the view from above …

(Click to enlarge)

2500 Edgewood Above

(Pic: Google)

Oh, and here’s a screenshot of the Anderson County, S.C. tax record for this address, showing White sold the property at fair market value (roughly $150,000) in September 2008 …

(Click to enlarge)

2500 Edgewood Tax Record

(Pic: Anderson County)

So far, so good … right?

Let’s fast-forward …

In 2011 – the last time White provided the public with anything other than a U.S. Post Office box for his home address – he listed 2933 Concord Road in Anderson, S.C. as his place of residence.

Here’s a look at that property …

(Click to enlarge)

2933 Concord Road

(Pic: Google)

And here’s a look at a county tax record showing the property – valued at $43,864 –  belonging not to White, but rather to Brad Moorhouse – director of an Anderson County, S.C. nursing home run by the National HealthCare Corporation (NHC).

(Click to enlarge)

2933 Concord Road Tax Record

(Pic: Anderson County)

Hmmmmm … we’ll return to the nursing home angle in just a moment.

Finally, here’s a view of 102 Dursely Drive in Anderson, S.C. – a property valued at $390,970 that was purchased by White and his wife on January 24, 2014 (for the bargain basement price of $295,000).

(Click to enlarge)

102 Dursely Drive Street View

(Pic: Google)

And here’s the view from above …

(Click to enlarge)

102 Dursely Drive Above

(Pic: Google)

Nice …

Oh, and here’s the property tax record showing White and his wife’s ownership …

102 Dursely Drive Record

(Pic: Anderson County)

Not a bad deal, huh?

So … what does all this mean?  Good question.

According to our source, the questions being raised about White’s residency – including “one of the listed properties in Anderson” – are being viewed through the lens of his proximity to James Randall Lee, a registered lobbyist and executive with the S.C. HealthCare Association.

According to its website, Lee’s organization exists to “promote the general welfare through development and maintenance of high standards of professional care and administration in nursing homes and related long-term care facilities.”

“Follow the nursing home money,” our source told us.

What makes Lee’s connection to White even more interesting?  Well, he was one of the central figures in Operation Lost Trust – a federal probe that snared seventeen South Carolina lawmakers in a sweeping public corruption sting a quarter century ago.

It’s also worth noting White – an insurance agent – reportedly writes the policies for many of the state’s nursing homes.

“He recused himself from voting on several agency budgets due to conflicts – but there is nothing is on his economic disclosure reflecting that,” one lawmaker told FITS.

We’re not accusing White of having done anything illegal.  Clearly his 2011 scandal (and his recent campaign payments to his wife’s charity) need to be addressed – and White needs to be held accountable for his actions – but at this point no one has publicly accused him of any criminal wrongdoing.

We can confirm, however, that White and Lee are among those at the S.C. State House who are currently being “probed.”  And we can also confirm that White recently retained counsel by way of responding to the probe – which has already snared one of the most powerful elected officials in the state.

FITS was the first media outlet in the state to report on the probe.

Since then, we’ve published multiple follow-up reports exploring its specific details.

The gist?  Working alongside S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson and other state entities, federal investigators acting under the authority of U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles have been looking into allegations of corruption at the S.C. State House for the better part of the last year.  This investigation centers on three main areas: 1) misuse of campaign funds by members, 2) abusing public offices for personal gain and 3) vote-trading (or vote-selling) tied to the controversial February 2014 legislative election that saw Jean Toal win another term as chief justice of the state’s supreme court.

Other judicial elections (scandals also broken exclusively here on FITS) are said to be part of “the probe …”

Another key focus?  Legislative political action committees (a.k.a. “leadership PACs”) which dole out contributions to members – ostensibly in exchange for their votes on key issues.

(Pic: Via)

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