Kevin Bryant: “Ethics Reform” Bills Muzzle Free Speech

PROPOSED LEGISLATION “EVISCERATES ADVOCACY EFFORTS ON BOTH ENDS OF THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM” || By KEVIN BRYANT || S. 1, commonly known as “ethics reform” isn’t about “ethics” or “reform.”  More often than not, I have found legislation titled with words of importance to have a hidden agenda.  What is it?…


kevin bryant|| By KEVIN BRYANT || S. 1, commonly known as “ethics reform” isn’t about “ethics” or “reform.”  More often than not, I have found legislation titled with words of importance to have a hidden agenda.  What is it?  Buried in the text of this “omnibus” bill is a constraint that would require issue advocacy groups to submit their membership lists to government.  Simply put, they want to shut you up.

The driving force behind this effort is to root out anyone critical of elected officials.  My colleagues made it very clear when they tabled my amendment to remove this offensive language.  Here are those standing with you and your right to free speech: Karl Allen, D-Greenville; Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg; Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson; Ray Cleary, R-Georgetown; Thomas Corbin, R-Greenville; Larry Grooms, R-Berkeley; Marlon Kimpson, D-Charleston; Shane Martin, R-Spartanburg; Luke Rankin, R-Horry; Danny Verdin, R-Laurens

Interestingly, the SC House of Representatives passed a stand-alone bill to suppress you.  H. 3189 passed with only six liberty lovers voting nay: Eric Bedingfield, Jonathon Hill, Ralph Norman, Joshua Putnam, Garry Smith and Anne Thayer.

You may appreciate Rep. Hill’s journal statement:

I voted against H. 3189 because I believe it would have a chilling effect on the exercise of free speech, by subjecting companies and organizations’ donors to the possibility of political retribution.

I’m sure the skids are greased to fast-track H. 3189 in the Senate to silence you.  When I was a kid, we’d refer to a boy that could not take criticism as a “sensiboy”. It looks like the General Assembly is full of sensiboys!

What’s the big deal you may ask?

The most fundamental tenet of democracy is that anyone and everyone enjoy the right to speak their mind at any time, in any place and on any subject.  The important part of free speech, moreover, is not the “speech” part but the “free” part.  Americans must never be subjected to government restrictions on their speech, particularly their political speech.  I believe the words of Winston Churchill that, “democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”

The idea that an organization that gathers the collective voice of concerned citizens on a particular subject should be forced to give over the names and addresses of their supporters smacks of the sort of oppressive government that Americans have spent the better part of two centuries fighting against, both at home and abroad.

This bill eviscerates advocacy efforts on both ends of the political spectrum.  A doctor who donates to a group that lobbies for universal health care must inform the government that he did so.  People who give money to a group that seeks a ban on public prayer or greater gun control must put their personal information on a list to be held by the government.  I disagree with these particular initiatives, but I repel at the suggestion that people should have to fill out forms and have a file with the government before they can express themselves.

The only explanation for gagging speech is fear of the message.  I do not know what message the proponents of this legislation fear, but I do know that once we thwart the constitution by limiting speech, the rest of our rights will fall like dominoes.

We, as free citizens, should demand that government listen to the people instead of requiring us to register before we speak.  We, as free citizens, should expect our public officials to endorse or reject our hopes and expectations, not use our desire to speak as a weapon against us.  We, as free citizens, must preserve our freedom to speak to our government and not allow our government to become the arbiters of when and where and how we can speak.  Once we allow government to suspend one of our rights, the next ones will go more quickly.

Thomas Jefferson further proclaimed that, “The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed.  The agitation it produces must be submitted to.  It is necessary, to keep the waters pure.” Senate bill S.1 highjacks our most basic freedom, that of free speech.

I will fight the contamination of our politics by the usurpation of our right to speak. I hope you will join me.

Kevin Bryant represents Anderson County in the State Senate.  This column – reprinted with permission – originally appeared on his website, which was the original S.C. legislative blog. 

WANNA SOUND OFF? Submit your letter to the editor or opinion column HERE.

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Two wolves & a lamb February 16, 2015 at 10:32 am

I believe the words of Winston Churchill that, “democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”

Too bad we don’t have a Democracy, but a Constitutional Republic with county specific & executive/cabinet state Democratic processes eh?

Bible Thumper February 16, 2015 at 11:19 am

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

Winston Churchill


Two wolves & a lamb February 16, 2015 at 11:28 am

Can’t say I’m surprised to see he’s a hypocrite. At least agree with this particular quote.

Bible Thumper February 16, 2015 at 12:14 pm

To be fair, Churchill didn’t say he was against democracy. Not a hypocrite.

Two wolves & a lamb February 16, 2015 at 12:30 pm

Aw, come on…with a statement like that do you think he was endorsing it? lol

grandtangosuglydog February 16, 2015 at 3:41 pm

I wouldnt expect the logic train to show up anytime will be waitin forever for him to admit that they are wrong..

Tom February 16, 2015 at 2:05 pm

Churchill was an aristocrat. His family owns one of the largest castles and estates in England. Of course he was unhappy with democracy. Just like the new American Aristocrats, like the Koch brothers, are. That is why they want to treat money as speech. Because they then have the only voice that would be heard. They believe their wealth entitles them to a bigger say in how government works than the average American.

Torch February 16, 2015 at 10:46 am

I fear that he squeaks over something that he may be hiding. Each individual can give campaign donations and their names and amounts are duly recorded. However, giving grossly large amounts of money to pacs leaves them in the shadows. We need transparent elections as much as we need transparent government.

Point of Order February 16, 2015 at 11:02 am

The irony of his comment is that the first/original Democracy was characterized by two important aspects lacking in our Republican/Democarcy hybrid today:

1. Those chosen to serve in one of the major bodies was done so by lottery. Similar to jury duty.

2. Those serving were subject to financial audits both going into office and once again upon leaving.

So what can we take from these two important points from the Athenian Democracy?

That people thousands of years ago were much more in tune with human nature and how to deal with the power of gov’t than today.

FastEddy23 February 16, 2015 at 11:51 am

The problems with ALL campaign donations is that they are tax deductible … If not so, then most of these “donations” would never happen.

Torch February 16, 2015 at 12:17 pm

Don’t think that they are tax deductible.

Not recent but it still applies.

FastEddy23 February 16, 2015 at 12:32 pm

It depends on your definition of “is”.

ALL corporations “deduct” these kinds of expenses and may individuals do as well.

Whether taxes, tithes or tributes, the definitions vary: advertising, promotions, above the table or under it … Only you CPA knows for sure (and He is paid to “optimize” you tax liabilities).

good point(less) February 16, 2015 at 10:13 pm

Fast Eddie, if that were actually true (its not its completely false) it would be problematic. There’s a lot of untrue stuff that if were true would be super problematic!

Mac February 16, 2015 at 1:49 pm

If Kevin Bryant weren’t slipping and sliding between the sheets with a young hottie he might have time to craft an ethics bill that would pass.

Howie February 16, 2015 at 10:50 am

I jump through a lot of hoops to make sure my checks to Bryant seem anonymous, I’d hate to actually have it linked back to me!

Buz Martin February 16, 2015 at 10:54 am

Don’t Bryant and Rankin and that bunch want to keep ethics considerations under the auspices of the actual legislators who need to be investigated? That pretty much negates anything he has to say about this.

Manray9 February 16, 2015 at 10:56 am

Bryant’s language is alarmist and conclusions are clearly jumped to. Here’s another viewpoint: If you support a so-called “issue advocacy group” why do you insist upon doing so in secret? Do you lack the strength of your convictions? What’s wrong with transparency? I hope to always have guts enough to stand up for any public issue I support or oppose. This statement reeks of secret money and backroom influence-peddling to me. The problem in SC is not too much sunshine on public matters — especially who pays and who is rewarded.

Diogenes February 16, 2015 at 11:12 am

Well said.

Bible Thumper February 16, 2015 at 11:13 am

What is wrong with transparency? First, you be transparent. What is your real name, Manray9?

Manray9 February 16, 2015 at 11:21 am

I participate in many public political and community activities. I speak my mind. I vote and donate as I see fit. I would neither ask for nor expect to do so in secret. On-line too many nutjobs troll for opportunities to make trouble. Online commentary doesn’t rise to the same level as using money and influence to impact elective officials. Apples and oranges. So Bible Thumper: You endorse political secrecy?

Bible Thumper February 16, 2015 at 12:22 pm

The founding fathers had trolls and nut jobs in their day. That’s why the “Federalists Papers” were mostly written under anonymous pseudonyms.

Tom February 16, 2015 at 1:50 pm

You have every right to make anonymous comments. You can publish under a nom de plume as many writers do. But you have absolutely no right to give money to support the election of politicians in secret. We all have the right to know who is giving money to the people who will be running our government. This is not private information. Why? Because no one gives significant money to a politician or to support the election of a politician, unless he or she expects something in return. Anyone who says otherwise is either lying or incredibly naive.

Dark money is destroying our democracy. Politicians no longer work for the people they work for the people who pay them.

Money is not speech. If money is speech the voice of the average American is just a whisper among the screams, destined never to be heard and the the poor are mute.

obama's love of Islam February 16, 2015 at 2:51 pm

Is that why the Obama wHite House hides who visits the ‘peoples’ house-like a couple of weeks ago when they wouldn’t give a list of the Muslims and supporters of radical Islam that were invited for a meeting?

Wonder how much they paid for a visit with the pResident and what they get in return?

Looks like all we get are dead american citizens and soldiers.

grandtangosuglydog February 16, 2015 at 3:40 pm

Jeb is charging 100k per person (one hundred thousand!!!!) just attend one of his parties..what do they get for the 100k entry fee?

Tom February 16, 2015 at 5:29 pm

Jeb knows what they expect.

White House Boys February 16, 2015 at 4:08 pm

Hey, Flip. Provide some Fox News sources for these Radical parties Obama’s throwing?

Manray9 February 16, 2015 at 10:57 pm

I notice you dodged the question: do you endorse secrecy in politics for donors and office holders/seekers?

Bible Thumper February 16, 2015 at 11:14 pm

My Laws, Laws, Laws, comment and my reply to Jack’s reply state my opinion.
Basically, I want a heavy burden on office holders/seekers to report income, donors and how it is spent.

I don’t want any burden on donors except if they funnel income, pay for vote or pay to play. They should be able to make anonymous issue contributions. The issue organization must report their spending and can’t endorse candidates or contribute to their campaigns. Read my other post for reasoning. Some things are so difficult to legislate that the laws only discourage the honest people and the dishonest find a way around every law.

Tired February 17, 2015 at 8:06 am

No one is trying to get organizations that stick to advocating for issues to disclose donors. The bill requires disclosure ONLY if there is electioneering for or against a candidate. Some “issues” organizations have been sliding far over that boundary, and want to keep doing that.

Sillas February 16, 2015 at 1:46 pm

Manray is a big government, big spending, retired bureaucrat that just can’t wait to open the taxpayers bank and dump money to every well connected good old boy in SC.

Manray9 February 16, 2015 at 10:58 pm

I was never a bureaucrat?

none of their business February 16, 2015 at 12:00 pm

Excellent. The Democrat Party has been taken over by radical extremists on the left that seek to destroy the economic, moral and cultural foundations that made us a great nation. The ends justify the means-which means NOTHING is against the law whether it is a pResident or AG shredding the Constitution or OWS type organizations getting lists of donors and trying to destroy their businesses and stalk/harass their families.

Intimidation,blackmail and threats against those they disagree with are how they do business now and why ‘privacy’ is so important.

GrandTango February 16, 2015 at 11:04 am

The BIGGER that the media gives Democrats and liberals Billions in FREE and shameless promotion…that is based in lies, smears and dishonesty…

I’d be ALL FOR a much-needed Bill that protects Conservatives…and their donors…but Compels ANY agency receiving PUBLIC Dollars to Declare so…in any ad..or story about a Democrat…or a RINO…doing bidding for the Democrats…

We have TWO AMERICAS now…Liberals are allowed to get away w/ MURDER (see OJ)…and a Republican can go to JAIL…for just being a Republican (see Scooter Libby)….Then you have Obama using the IRS, the NSA and the Justice Department to persecute political enemies…and the so-called “WATCH-DOGS” act like bind and dirty Dumb@$$#$…

We need to GET this S#!t STRAIGHT and be AGGRESSIVE in how we do it…The @$$holes have been in control too long…

Rocky February 16, 2015 at 11:25 am

You do realize that Scooter broke the law – right? And Cheney threw him under the Bush, I mean the bus. And I find you’re statement about the media giving Dems and liberals Free promotion. Unless you’re complaining about how Fox News, Limbaugh, Hannity and Herman Cain give too much free publicity to the Dems at the expense of the conservative view? Really! My oh my!! And for getting away with murder, as a progressive I find it offensive for you to suggest that OJ shares my beliefs or views. OJ was found acquitted by a jury in CA, made up of his peers (sort of) – he was probably guilty as sin, but then it couldn’t be proven. That was apolitical, and shall remain that way. But either way, he’s in jail last I heard. But thanks for bringing out your favorite boogyman – the crazed black man with a knife and guts hanging out of his teeth – always helpful. Not!!

just a fact February 16, 2015 at 11:47 am

You didn’t watch the Ferguson riots?

GrandTango February 16, 2015 at 12:57 pm

He did. And Obama told that stupid Some Beech he is right.

Thank God the voters told him the opposite on Nov. 4.

Rocky February 16, 2015 at 2:15 pm

Yes, and those riots had what to do with OJ Simpson the slasher and Scooter Libby the liar.

rOcky's ugly dog February 16, 2015 at 2:59 pm

You brought up the ‘boogymen’, race baiter.
Can you ever discuss a subject without calling someone a racist or lying about people like you did Graham and that poor father in the upstate, loser?

Who in the fuck would do business with you ya dishonest SOB?

grandtangosuglydog, possibly? Ya both are uninformed clowns.

grandtangosuglydog February 16, 2015 at 3:37 pm

obviously this is another post from our own little troll but the truly funny thing, besides the fact he must post as others to back his own dishonest points is that they both ignore well established facts and put fingers in ears and scream about what they ethemselves do usually on the very same article..example: grandasshatwiththeanalobsession brought up oj Simpson..(lololol) then his alter ego brings up just couldnt make this shit up if you tried.

GrandTango February 16, 2015 at 12:48 pm

Again: OJ walked free because he was Black, and killed 2 White people. Liberals and the Black Special Interest Lobby of the Democrat Party threw parties because he got away w/ killing white people…I will NEVER forget the image of Black Clergy high fiving as the verdict was read. It shows how SICKENED you are…
And: Libby was sentenced to jail by being framed for a Non-Crime that Richard Armitige – of Obama fan Colin Powell’s office- perpetuated because a liberal hag and her leftist husband – left by the Bush Administration – trumped up a lie about being a CIA Spy.
You uneducated and Ignorant Dumb@$$…

Rocky February 16, 2015 at 2:14 pm

Scooter as I recall was convicted of lying to investigators. Wait, let me check. Ok, one count of obstruction of justice, two counts of perjury, and one count of making false statements. As for a hag – she was a pretty hot looking hag. Her leftist husband I recall was an American hero for his dealings with Saddam Hussien running up to the first Gulf War. They were attacked because they were unwilling to pertuate the lie for the invasion of Iraq – the war that killed 5000 American kids, left 10s of thousands maimed for life, and which gives you a stiffy. You’re sick.

GrandTango February 16, 2015 at 2:33 pm

Heroism for liberals – as with Plame-Wilson – is based on how much you can hurt America, and promote the people who HATE us….

So I guess they are heroes to you…And that speaks very ugly of you…

Thank God, Bush commuted Scooter’s sentence…That may have been the most fair thing Bush did in office.

Tunes'n'News February 16, 2015 at 11:14 am

Don’t know much about the two bills. But if Bright, Bryant and Corbin are for them, I’m against them.

Frank February 16, 2015 at 1:44 pm

I would have thought Kevin Bryant’s young girlfriend would occupy his time, not writing right wing editorials.

Kyle February 16, 2015 at 1:51 pm

I heard the same thing from a friend on the hottie. He should learn to be more discrete.

Kippy February 16, 2015 at 5:50 pm

He always flirts with the interns. But I did not know he was screwing one of them. Oh well, that right wings knows how to keep itself busy.

Ann Bryant February 20, 2015 at 2:03 pm

Frank, Kyle, and Kippy thank you so much for the compliment of calling me a young hottie!!!!

Jobs Creator February 16, 2015 at 2:02 pm

The funniest part of this whole thing is that Fits reprinted this advocacy sheet for the Right Wing special interest groups that own Bryant with “permission.”

nitrat February 16, 2015 at 2:35 pm

Bright, alone, did it for me.

Lenny Musso February 16, 2015 at 11:43 am

We don’t need no stinking “free speech” from those witch-hunting organizations that can’t keep their mouths shut about what elected officials sometimes need to do to survive and even prosper in office. If people want to give to organizations that badmouth our great state’s government and our fine, outstanding gentlemen in office, then let them do it at the risk of being hunted down by politicians and perhaps losing their jobs and having to move to other states where they won’t be nary a trouble at all. Those stinking uppity plebeians had better learn to respect our elected authorities or they will have to answer for it! THEY WILL BE CRUSHED! IN YOUR FACE, ASHLEY LANDESS AND THE SCPC!

FastEddy23 February 16, 2015 at 11:46 am

“… this “omnibus” bill …”

Always a clue to the machinations and manipulations of lobbyists and special interests and greed head taxsuckers run amok.

Invariably long, complicated legislation will include inconsistencies, redundancies, inadequacies and hidden agendas …

“We need to pass that bill before you can read it.”

Clem February 16, 2015 at 5:48 pm

No truer words have been said!

1SC February 16, 2015 at 12:15 pm

The bill does not restrict free speech in any way. It does require that those who directly advocate for or against a candidate disclose the identities of their donors. Transparency isn’t something needed only from officials. At present SC has the weakest laws in the nation on this issue. We should ask ourselves who benefits from hiding in the shadows to attack a candidate. Certainly not the citizens who have no information to evaluate possible bias in the message.

Lenny Musso February 16, 2015 at 12:59 pm

Yours is undoubtedly the way to push our agenda. I defer to your judgement, sir! I have a habit of being too obviously fascistic for most people being “brutally honest,” etc. :)

Lobby guy February 16, 2015 at 1:43 pm

Bryant loves to talk about God, patriotism, and family because it is all nonsense and means nothing in a body that depends on votes to accomplish things.

He does not care about accomplishing anything tangible. He voted for Leatherman’s budget last year and as he climbs the seniority ladder he is becoming known as some body that will toe the leadership line (when it matter) and screw his high minded drivel.

So, Mr. Bryant, keep debating nullification and gun rights so the people back home think you are a conservative. But those of us in the know realize you are a Rino Foot soldier doing as you are told so that you can get ahead.

Albert February 16, 2015 at 3:37 pm

Bryant is a peice of crap. Look at the money he is making off of state employees and retiree health care. Check into the medical equipment end of it. Ole Kev is making millions.


Guest February 16, 2015 at 2:15 pm

What’s interesting is the rest of the Senate opponents to the bill, keeping quiet, and letting the Tin Foil Hat brigade fall on their sword, in effort to prevent the bill from passing.

nitrat February 16, 2015 at 2:28 pm

Ah, so this is the excuse the frightwing gives when it fights against disclosure and transparency in regards to those lobbying politicians.
You only run into this problem when you confuse money & donations with actual speech.
No matter what the Miscreant5 on the US supreme court say they believe, money is not speech.

TSIB February 16, 2015 at 3:21 pm


Bible Thumper February 16, 2015 at 5:11 pm

Laws, Laws, Laws and more Laws!
Where does it get you? What does it accomplish? Did a ban of guns on campus protect Raja Fayad? Democrats seem to have a law for every problem, but they never seem to solve the problem. This provision if ethics reform will not clean up politics. It will throw cold water on free speech and the worst must corrupt ones will find a way around the restriction, just like Sunghee Kwon.
Ethics reform should be simple and straightforward.
1. Reveal all income.
2. Carefully independent oversight of Campaign spending.
3. Independent ethics committee that does not interfere with prosecutors or the AG.
4. Clearly define what violations are felonies and what warrants removal from office.
5. Office holders can’t run PACS. nor contribute to a colleagues campaign.
The beauty of these rules is that they regulate and place the burden of compliance on the candidates and not the citizens and organizations that wish to participate in the political process. That is where it should be.
If I were to add one more thing to my wish list it would be that political contributions could not be carried over from a previous election or to another office.

Jack February 16, 2015 at 5:48 pm

You people are bat shit crazy. Drug laws don’t stop everyone from taking drugs. Law against Murder don’t stop everyone from committing murder, Laws against theft don’t stop everyone from stealing. So why don’t we just get rid of all these laws. They don’t work, right?.

If you want to represent people in congress, why do you want to hide who is giving you money. There is only one reason. You don’t want people to know who you owe, so when you pay them back people will not know you are paying them back. Dark money is nothing but legalized bribery.

The light of day is the best sanitation. Evil and corruption fear the light. If you want to represent the people, disclose who is giving you money.

Bible Thumper February 16, 2015 at 6:13 pm

You pass laws to protect people’s rights and to perform the basic functions of government.
This provision is not about campaign contributions. It “would require issue advocacy groups to submit their membership lists to government.”

 Many have completely innocent reasons for maintaining privacy. They are doing nothing wrong. That’s what liberals do. They want to take guns not just from criminals but innocent people too. They want to expose to harassment innocent people by creating government lists on every issue a citizen supports.



Sheejus February 17, 2015 at 12:18 am

Just cut out corporate donations all together and put a cap on individual contibutions. A rich man can a million dumby corps for $75.00 a pop, but how many kids can the average Joe have??? Liberals are not the ones who set up the patriot act and raked it through under Bush, and surprise surprise, obama loved the extra constutional power soooo much, he not only kept but expanded it. There’s plenty of goverment overreach to go around. I assume you call it a “liberal” prerogative because ‘they’re’ bad, and you’re “good” eg conservative. Give me a break, don’t get caught up in the partisan ideological banter – which I’d just wager you hate.

interesting stance February 16, 2015 at 9:57 pm

So when I donate or support some one, I have to put my name on it, but coporation and any make shift fly by night alleged “advocacy” group gets to do so anonymously? This bill doesn’t limit free speech. It does potentially keep pet interest groups of law makers from being done secretly and behind the scenes. I thought sun light was supposed to be the best disinfectant from corruption?

Robert B. February 17, 2015 at 12:57 am

This guy is what’s wrong with the legislature. 100 percent corrupt. A pox on him and his buddies.

RHood2 February 17, 2015 at 4:12 pm

The Senator is just so full of … it.

Any opinion you cannot attach your name to is the opinion of a coward. If “secret” advocacy groups that accept money are allowed to proliferate, what’s the possibility of one rich man funding a group, with no members, from claiming the group has 10,000 members? Or a million?

There is no real precedence in American History for your claim that Americans have been fighting for two centuries at home and abroad governments that take the “the names and addresses of supporters” of organizations “that gathers the collective voice of concerned citizens on a particular subject.”

I am sure some asshole will try to play the Nazi card here, that Hitler did it.
Right. America has fought very few wars against oppression in its history. it was founded in one, split itself in two over one, and fought the last great war against it.

We have fought against many a country led at some level by a tyrant or tyrants, but we were not fighting those tyrants to free people from oppression. World War II, Civil War (Or War Against Southern Slavery) are the notable exceptions.

I say this as spokesman for the 550,000 members of our group, Northern Transplants for Freedom Slowly Taking Over South Carolina.


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