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Penny Tax Scam: Connected Insiders




Last week we broke the news of some fresh developments in the S.C. Department of Revenue (SCDOR) investigation of Richland County over its controversial “penny tax.”

And this week those developments have become widely reported.

Bottom line?  Proceeds from this $1.2 billion tax hike – which was secured via a rigged election (and preserved by a total lack of investigation) – are being steered to politically connected companies

Take Heyward Bannister of the Banco Bannister public relations firm – which is getting big bucks from the county from tax proceeds.  Bannister is married to Shirley Mills – lead lobbyist for the University of South Carolina (one of his firm’s clients).  Both are well-connected black insiders.  Not surprisingly, USC got some of the first money from the penny tax to “streetscape” around its new dormitories and government-subsidized coliseum – turning four-lane roads into two-lane roads (congesting traffic) and planting trees in the roadways.

Seriously: This is the “Innovista” scam all over again …

Also employed by Banco Bannister is Antjuan Seawright, the top black staffer advising S.C. Senate Democrats whose shady double-dipping this website has previously exposed.

Other connections?

Take the consulting firm run by Darrell Campbell – a lobbyist who currently employs former city of Columbia, S.C. official Nicole Smith.  Campbell’s firm is also getting paid by the county out of penny tax proceeds – ostensibly to “market” projects paid for by the tax (many if not most of which will fall within the city limits of Smith’s former employer).

Oh, and let’s not forget both of these firms were intimately involved in the “passage” of the tax in 2012.

What a scam …

After county residents narrowly rejected this tax hike in 2010, Republican and Democratic leaders of the local legislative delegation – including Seawright’s boss, S.C. Senator Darrell Jackson – took matters into their own hands.  With the approval of S.C. governor Nikki Haley, they passed a law seizing control of the local election commission and installed their hand-picked puppet as its leader.

This puppet then proceeded to rig the vote – targeting excessive shortages of voting machines in county precincts that voted against the tax hike two years earlier (possibly working in concert with her intimate relations in the pro-tax movement at the time).

Astoundingly, the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) has refused to launch an investigation into all this.  Not only that, the S.C. Supreme Court (without comment) upheld this rigged election – and the puppet who pulled it off got rewarded with a new job and a lifetime pension.

And now all the firms who helped pull off the heist are being reward for their efforts – with taxpayer dollars.

“It is all race based, inside baseball with conflicts of interest everywhere,” a source familiar with the contracts told us.  “It is the rich taking for their own purposes the penny sales tax that was sold to the minority population as paving dirt roads, repairing potholes and bridges and improving transportation so they could go to work!”


Once again, we would call on the USDOJ to initiate an investigation into the stolen “penny tax” election of 2012.  We would also call on the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and the office of attorney general Alan Wilson to investigate and prosecute the public corruption uncovered by the SCDOR probe of Richland County’s penny tax finances.

Of course given how “accountability” works in the Palmetto State, we’re not holding our breath …