STATEWIDE GRAND JURY SHOULD BE EMPOWERED TO GO AFTER CORRUPT POLITICIANS
|| By FITSNEWS || We’re sure we will have occasion to criticize new S.C. Speaker of the House Jay Lucas in the future, but we gotta be honest … his early moves have impressed us.
At an organizational session of the S.C. House of Representatives last month, Lucas used a rule change to ban “leadership PACs” – a.k.a. political action committees used by powerful legislators to financially reward lawmakers who toe the status quo line. Basically these PACs – which are at the heart of an ongoing federal/ state corruption investigation – provided a means of funneling more special interest cash into the system so that a handful of legislative leaders could effectively bribe rank-and-file members.
We applauded Lucas for his efforts …
“Cutting off this particular spigot of corruption is a long-overdue reform – and we credit Lucas and his allies for making it happen,” we wrote.
This week Lucas is taking another step in the right direction – joining forces with crusading S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson to strengthen the statewide grand jury.
As FITS readers are well aware, Wilson was hamstrung last year in his anti-corruption efforts by a state judicial system literally teeming with corruption. In fact at one point a compromised circuit court judge attempted to shut down his investigation of former S.C. Speaker Bobby Harrell – a move which would have afforded Harrell the same sort of whitewash that Gov. Nikki Haley benefited from in 2012 when she faced a slew of much more serious ethical allegations.
In contrast to Harrell’s case, the allegations against Haley were ultimately heard by a panel of her former “Republican” peers in the S.C. General Assembly – who cleared her of wrongdoing following a farce of a “trial.”
Lucas aims to end such “self-policing.” In fact he told The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier this week that he is pushing tougher ethics laws because “lawmakers have shown they are incapable of policing themselves,” thus “eroding the public’s trust in government.”
He’s absolutely right …
South Carolina’s ethics laws are a joke – in their parameters, penalties and enforcement. They must be upgraded, or else taxpayers will continue to be robbed blind by their “Republican” rulers.
Strengthening the grand jury’s ability to pursue political corruption is a big part of that upgrade – because it grants the attorney general’s office freedom from legislative/ judicial meddling in what ought to be an independent executive branch investigation.
For too long, powerful lawmakers have relied on the judges they appoint (yet another infinitely corrupt process) to protect their self-serving behavior. They’ve also benefited from lazy prosecutors who were more interested in rubbing shoulders with ethically challenged officials than exposing their misdeeds. Now that the state finally has a top prosecutor who is willing to go after corrupt politicians – he should be given the tools needed to do his job.
Props to Wilson for being such a prosecutor … and props to Lucas for seeking to empower him.