MARK SANFORD ACCUSED OF BRIBING ENVIRONMENTALISTS WITH TAX DOLLARS …
|| By FITSNEWS || As they clamor for an increase in the gasoline tax, South Carolina leaders are dramatically escalating government spending on the nation’s worst government-run school system, a duplicative and inefficient higher education system, bailouts for wealthy corporations, shady ‘economic development‘ deals and dozens of exorbitantly expensive and totally unnecessary highway projects.
But money is vanishing in other ways, too … like $5.3 million routed more than a decade ago to a non-profit run by the S.C. Department of Commerce and the S.C. Coastal Conservation League. This money was part of a $160 million “incentives” deal to land an aircraft manufacturing facility operated by Vought Aircraft Industries and Alenia North America. Approved in 2004, this facility was ultimately purchased by Boeing five years later – just before it decided to make South Carolina home to its second 787 Dreamliner assembly facility.
Boeing has received another $1 billion in taxpayer incentives.
Anyway, the money routed to this non-profit was intended to compensate for the environmental impact the Vought-Alenia facility would have on local wetlands.
The only problem? The $5.3 million routed to the nonprofit was seven times the amount required by federal authorities for environmental mitigation.
The scam was uncovered this week by the S.C. Legislative Audit Council (SCLAC) – which issued a report determining that only $743,000 was needed for wetlands protection and preservation.
Not only that the Commerce department failed to “include any oversight monitoring provisions for the nonprofit’s spending” – nor did it have any provision for bond money being returned to the state “should the cost to mitigate the fill of the wetlands at the impact site be less than the bond allocation.”
It gets worse … in a portion of the report totally ignored by the mainstream media, it appears as though the whole thing was a shakedown from the state.
“According to a former League official, the League might have considered appealing the permit if the state had taken the position that it would only pay to meet the minimum government mitigation requirements,” the report stated.
In other words, the SCCCL got bought off with more than $4.5 million of taxpayer money.
Commerce was under the cabinet of former S.C. governor Mark Sanford at the time. Just this week, Sanford – a liberal on environmental issues – stood with representatives of the SCCCL to oppose drilling off the coast of the Palmetto State.
Did the governor know of the payoff?
Sources inside his former office – and at the Commerce Department – say “yes.”
Defenders of the deal claimed they weren’t just spending money to mitigate the impact of the original Vought-Alenia facility, they say they were spending money to compensate for its future expansions. They also claimed the SCLAC had no right to review the fund because it dealt with federal law governing wetlands mitigation.
So there were no additional environmental mitigation funds included in the $1 billion Boeing got beginning in 2009? And the state has no right to review how its own taxpayers’ money gets spent?
We call B.S. on both counts.
This was a bribe, pure and simple … approved by an environmentally liberal governor in an effort to ensure environmentalists’ support for an even bigger crony capitalist deal.
UPDATE: As we suspected …