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Richland County “Penny Tax” Being Audited




|| By FITSNEWS || Remember the “penny tax?” We do …

This $1.2 billion tax hike became law in 2012 via a rigged Richland County, S.C. election – which by the way remains the most scandalous thing we’ve ever covered.

No really … in all our years of exposing corruption in the Palmetto State, we’ve never seen anything quite like what happened in the run-up to that vote.  Or in the miscarriage of justice which followed it.

Yet while there has been no investigation into the “robbery” itself – which involved corrupt local officials deliberately causing illegal voting machine shortages in anti-tax regions of the county – there is now an investigation into the loot that was stolen.

According to reporter John Monk of The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper, officials at the S.C. Department of Revenue (SCDOR) have launched an audit into the county’s collection and disbursement of the first $100 million or so in “penny tax” revenues.

According to Monk, SCDOR officials “are looking for possible conflicts of interest in how Richland County has been spending money raised by its transportation penny-on-the-dollar sales tax.”

Monk’s story says the audit – which began a month ago – “is far more extensive than any audit (SCDOR) has done of any county’s tax collections.”

Our sources have confirmed as much.  In fact, we’re told SCDOR director Rick Reames – appointed by governor Nikki Haley in the aftermath of the agency’s 2012 data breach debacle – is personally responsible for launching the investigation.

“Reames decided to start this investigation himself,” a source close to the agency told FITS.

“I haven’t ever seen (SCDOR) go after a local government like this,” the source added.  “This is big.”

Another source confirmed the gravity of the situation.

“It is big that the state is reaching down,” the source said.  “It is like when the feds investigate the state – there is a reason and it gets your attention.”

Indeed it does …

So … what might the auditors find?

According to our sources, there has been “rampant cronyism” associated with various “penny tax” projects – including alleged nepotism involving at least one member of Richland county council.  Additionally, our sources have described “layers of conflicted interests” – fueled by a secretive bidding and scoring process.

Obviously we’re pleased to see Reames and his agency getting involved – and we sincerely hope they are successful in their efforts.

More fundamentally, though, this is an election which should never have been allowed to stand in the first place.

Even Monk – whose liberal paper championed the tax hike – acknowledges the 2012 race was “marred by broken election machines, lines that lasted for hours, ballots that went missing and numerous other irregularities.”

That’s putting it politely.  The 2012 “penny tax” election was stolen, people.  And the fact no one has been held accountable for that theft is the real tragedy here.