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Weakened LCI Chairman Bill Sandifer Faces Open Rebellion



Bill Sandifer


By FITSNEWS || One of the most liberal, self-serving and vindictive “Republican” politicians in South Carolina is Rep. Bill Sandifer of rural Oconee County.  Seriously … this guy has the thinnest skin, biggest ego and shortest temper of any lawmaker in Columbia, which is saying something if you’ve spent any time around the S.C. State House.

Unfortunately, Sandifer is also one of the most influential lawmakers given his position as chairman of the S.C. House Labor, Commerce and Industry (LCI) committee.  Next to the budget-writing ways and means committee, this is the most powerful chairmanship in the House of Representatives – and one of the most influential perches in all of state government.

“We raise the money ways and means spends,” Sandifer said this week – and he’s correct.

That’s why S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley ran against Sandifer for this post unsuccessfully prior to deciding to run for governor.

Imagine how different things would be if she’d won?

Anyway, along with ways and means chairman Brian White, Sandifer is rumored to be one of the targets of an ongoing federal-state investigation into corruption at the S.C. State House.  He’s also recently come under fire for questionable campaign spending … which is funny considering Sandifer nearly died on a 2010 taxpayer-funded junket to Panama after reportedly being struck on the head by a mysterious female companion.  Missed that story?  It’s the stuff of Palmetto political legend.

This week, Sandifer suffered another indignity when his leadership as LCI chairman was challenged.  While this might not seem like a big deal, it is.  A very big deal, actually.  In state government, decisions regarding who leads key committees are almost always made behind closed doors – and for a sitting chairman to be challenged in public is a sign of tremendous disrespect.

More to the point, it forces lawmakers to go on the record stating their preference – which they hate doing.

Sandifer survived his challenge – defeating S.C. Rep. Nathan Ballentine by a 11-6 margin.

This website is no fan of either lawmaker, but Ballentine would have likely made a more fiscally conservative chairman.  That’s why six of the LCI committee’s twelve “Republicans” voted for him.  Six other “Republicans” – including fiscal liberals Heather Ammons Crawford, Mike Forrester and Mike Gambrell – voted for Sandifer.  Oh, and all five Democrats on the committee voted for Sandifer, too.

The vote and its aftermath were recorded by the S.C. Policy Council …

(Click to play)

(Vid: Via)

There’s nothing on that clip that’s sexy …

It gets a little testy around the 10:00 minute mark, but Sandifer – albeit visibly displeased at having his authority questioned – goes out of his way to appear far more magnanimous than he actually is.

The most pointed moment occurred when Sandifer exchanged a few words with S.C. Rep. Ralph Norman – an ally of Haley’s who nominated Ballentine for the post.

“I think it’s telling the fact that you walk in the door for the first time as a member and make a nomination,” Sandifer said to Norman after the voting.

“I’m proud of that and I will do it again,” Norman replied.

Norman also vowed that Sandifer’s opponents on the committee – including Reps. Eric Bedingfield, Dan Hamilton and Deborah Long – would be “very direct” in the coming months in terms of advancing their issues.