“HE DOESN’T CARE …”
In March of this year, S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson participated in a press conference calling for the passage of “Alicia’s Law,” a bill named after children’s advocate Alicia Kozakiewicz.
Back in 2002, Kozakiewicz – then thirteen years old – was abducted by a 38-year-old man she met online. Held captive for several days prior to being rescued by police, she emerged from the ordeal as a tireless advocate for children targeted online.
“Alicia’s Law” – sponsored by S.C. Rep. Tommy Pope – would have created a dedicated funding stream of $3.1 million a year to enable Wilson’s office to better identify and prosecute online pedophiles.
The money would have come from an increase in fines imposed on criminal defendants – but this funding mechanism was removed by the S.C. Senate.
To be clear: We do not support the fee increases proposed by this legislation. There is ample money in Wilson’s budget – and in the broader state law enforcement budget – to make these efforts a priority.
Seriously … taxpayers are shelling out more than $28 billion on state government in the current fiscal year. The fact that lawmakers couldn’t identify $3.1 million for this particular task (without relying on a fee increase) is ridiculous – and emblematic of the total lack of prioritization evident across our state budget.
Anyway … with the funding mechanism removed, “Alicia’s Law” died an ignominious death on the final day of the 2016 legislative session.
Why did it fail?
To hear “Republican” politicians tell it, the bill was killed by greedy (mostly Democratic) trial lawyers. In fact the leader of the National Association to Protect Children specifically singled out “defense attorneys” as the reason the legislation failed.
Is that true, though? Not exactly …
Multiple sources at the S.C. State House tell us “Alicia’s Law” died because the attorney general – who publicly crusades against predators – failed to make it one of his “priority” agenda items.
(Click to enlarge)
(Pic via S.C. Attorney General)
Why not? According to our sources, Wilson’s political advisors feared the legislation’s passage would make it look as though he hadn’t been doing its job (which, let’s face it, he hasn’t been doing on multiple fronts).
This website has previously written in glowing terms about the work of Wilson’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) division.
“The ICAC task force members truly are unsung heroes,” one of Wilson’s top staffers told us a few years back. “They work far more than forty hours each week, and their responsibilities take them into the darkest, sickest corners of society. And they do it all, day in and day out, with one goal in mind: helping keep kids safe. It’s impossible to say too much about the fantastic job they do.”
Unfortunately, Wilson’s prosecutors have often wasted this hard (and truly gut-wrenching) work by letting offenders off the hook for their heinous crimes.
That’s just the beginning of the problem, though.
According to sources inside the attorney general’s office, Wilson has consistently shortchanged the ICAC in his office’s budget.
“He doesn’t care about it,” one source told us. “He only likes securities and Medicaid fraud cases because those bring in money.”
At its peak, the ICAC had roughly a dozen employees scattered across three floors of the attorney general’s office – with “any attempts to (consolidate) always shot down.”
“The ICAC investigators (and) prosecutors were always making comments about how the office didn’t support them,” the source added.
Additionally, Wilson’s office reportedly failed to retain ICAC positions because his top government-funded political advisor – Adam Piper – neglected to include funding for the positions in the agency’s budget request.
“They begged for two years for the positions to be included – and he forgot about it,” one source told us. “Funding, requests for additional positions were (also) overlooked.”
Does that sound like an office committed to protecting children from internet predators?
Over the last few months, Wilson has effectively torpedoed his political career by obstructing an ongoing investigation into corruption at the S.C. State House. We’ve written repeatedly as to this ongoing saga and its (serious) political consequences, but Wilson’s refusal to do his job with regard to the ICAC division is creating far direr, real-world consequences for vulnerable children.
It’s also yet another example of Wilson’s transparent political hypocrisy.
This website has already called on the attorney general to step down. Not just because he’s hypocritical and corrupt, but because he’s simply not doing his job.
As far as we’re concerned, Wilson’s refusal to make internet crimes against children a real priority (as opposed to a political talking point) is further evidence of his unfitness for office.