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Hugh Leatherman’s Gas Tax “Pincers”




|| By FITSNEWS ||  There’s a reason S.C. Senate president Hugh Leatherman is the undisputed ruler of South Carolina: He’s downright diabolical.  And devastatingly good at what he does.

That’s obviously bad news for South Carolina taxpayers given his leftward ideological leanings, but the unavoidable reality is that no one sees the chess board any better than this diminutive liberal.  In fact it’s not even close.

Leatherman – who completed his coup of state government last spring – is a hard-core statist.  A tax-hiking, big gubmint Democrat who switched parties when it became politically expedient for him to do so.  He’s also as wealthy as he is influential – often at your expense.

Anyway, it’s not surprising Leatherman is on board with the disingenuous push to raise the Palmetto State’s gas tax (which this website adamantly opposes).  It’s also not surprising the liberal S.C. Alliance to Fix Our Roads – which is lobbying hard for the tax hike – is loaded with Leatherman allies.

What is surprising?  The extent to which the “Little Digger” (as he is known around the S.C. State House) has managed to stay in the background on this issue … while at the same time covertly dropping the ax on those who have stuck their necks out and offered specific tax hike proposals.



Among them?  S.C. governor Nikki Haley – who was recently slammed for her tax swap proposal by a Columbia, S.C.-based group called “S.C. Citizens for a Free Market.”

Leading this group?  Kerry Wood, an Upstate “Tea Party” consultant whose personal life (most notably his messy separation from S.C. Rep. Donna Hicks) has made all sorts of headlines in the past.

According to our sources, S.C. Citizens for a Free Market is nothing but “a front for Leatherman’s interests.”  Meaning Wood and another Upstate “Tea Party” leader are in the tank for the powerful Senate leader.

“(Wood) and Spartanburg Tea Party chief Karen Martin manage the right wing for Leatherman and company,” our source explained. “Simple right wing stuff to keep the masses occupied.”

Neither Leatherman nor his left-leaning allies directly pay Wood or Martin, we’re told.

“There’s an intermediary in the state capital,” our source explained.  “Someone with long-standing ties to Leatherman and his operation.”

The goal of this effort?

To bloody Haley from the right while Leatherman’s status quo legions batter her from the left.  A pincers.  Or “double envelopment.”

“The (main goal) is to beat the Haley plan so as to ensure there is no reduction in general funds, and to put her on the sidelines, bruised,” our source added.  “Then Leatherman substitutes his straight up tax bill – an estimated twenty cents per gallon tax hike – in place of the two House bills. ”

S.C. House leaders have proposed their own tax hike plan … which we also adamantly oppose.

The only problem with Leatherman’s plan?  Haley is likely to veto any gas tax increase that does not contain the promise of future income tax relief – meaning two-thirds of both the House and Senate would need to support the tax hike Leatherman is proposing.

That’s not going to happen …

In fact House leaders say Leatherman’s plan won’t even reach Haley’s desk – because it “wouldn’t make it past the House.”

“He knows he’s going to have to negotiate down,” one House leader told FITS.

But Leatherman’s negotiating position with the House is dramatically improved if “Tea Party” forces are in his pocket.  Especially in the conservative Upstate region of South Carolina.

And if Leatherman and House leaders strike a deal, then the threat of Haley’s veto becomes far less menacing … meaning the likelihood of a gas tax increase becoming law goes up exponentially.

Pic: Travis Bell Photography