HUGH LEATHERMAN ENTRUSTS RICHARD QUINN WITH THE FIGHT OF HIS POLITICAL LIFE
Unrivaled and unquestioned for years, South Carolina’s most powerful politician suddenly finds himself waging a two-front war …
Under the dome in Columbia, S.C., corrupt Senate president Hugh Leatherman‘s legislative authority is being challenged with fresh brazenness by a new coalition of moderate and libertarian-leaning lawmakers. Meanwhile back in his rural Florence, S.C. Senate district, a credible and well-funded electoral opponent has emerged to run against him – the first time he’s been challenged at the polls in over a decade.
So … what does Leatherman do?
At a time when he could ill afford any missteps, he has decided to hire the political consulting firm responsible for the ongoing implosion of S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson.
Not to mention the brains behind former Florida governor Jeb Bush‘s “First in the South” collapse.
According to S.C. State Ethics Commission (SCSEC) filings, Leatherman’s 2016 State Senate campaign paid the neo-Confederate political consulting firm of Richard Quinn and Associates a whopping $50,000 during the first quarter of 2016.
Was that smart? No … not even a little bit.
Quinn and his son – S.C. Rep. Rick Quinn – were both named in a December 2013 S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) report investigating alleged ethics violations committed by powerful lawmakers. That report has kicked off a major federal-state investigation – one the Quinns are desperate to derail.
Obviously Leatherman is no stranger to legislative corruption …
Anyway, Leatherman’s previous consultant of record was Bob McAlister – who shills for all sorts of liberal special interests under the guise of “Christian conservatism.”
What prompted Leatherman’s shift?
It’s not immediately clear – although the diminutive legislative leader has allied with “the Quinndom” in the past when their interests aligned. Also, hiring the Quinns could help Leatherman silence some of his dissenters in the new media, as the firm is known to wield significant influence over the S.C. Policy Council – a libertarian-leaning think thank that publishes a new media outlet called The Nerve.
In fact that may already be happening …
The Nerve was harshly critical of Leatherman in the months leading up to his decision to hire the Quinns. Since then, though, it has published just one negative article against him … a piece which also slammed governor Nikki Haley and state comptroller Richard Eckstrom.
Leatherman, 84, has served in the Senate since 1981 and has led its powerful finance committee since 2001 – amassing near dictatorial power over the state’s budget process over that time period. In June 2014 he became president of the Senate.
In addition to his two-front political battle, Leatherman is also dealing with ongoing health issues. In December 2014 he collapsed at a museum opening in Florence, S.C. Six years previously he had some sort of seizure at a restaurant in Columbia, S.C.
Leatherman and former Florence “Republican” party chairman Richard Skipper are running for S.C. Senate District 31 (map here). A third candidate, Dean Fowler, is also seeking the seat, although Skipper’s bid is expected to benefit from hundreds of thousands of dollars in out-of-state “conservative” money.