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Thad Viers Didn’t Rat Out “Coastal Kickback”




Former S.C. Rep. Thad Viers will wind up serving roughly half of his thirty-seven-month prison sentence – which began last October.  That means he’ll be released sometime in the late spring of 2017, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Viers could have seen even less time had he provided information to federal authorities on the “Coastal Kickback,” a brazen pay-to-play scam in which hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions were funneled through a shadowy network of corporations to select politicians – ostensibly in exchange for their support of a local tax hike.

Back in August, this website reported exclusively that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was declining to issue indictments in connection with that case – which we maintain is the most egregious “pay-to-play” scandal in Palmetto political history.

The case is now being pursued by the S.C. State Ethics Commission (SCSEC) – although as we wrote last month it’s doubtful that agency will do anything but assess fines to pad its own pockets.

“There will be no accountability in this case,” we wrote.  “The SCSEC will take its cut of the action, while the citizens of Myrtle Beach will continue paying a tax that they never had a chance to vote on – the proceeds of which will continue to subsidize no-bid insider contracts and ‘tourism marketing’ efforts that taxpayers should never be compelled to pay for in the first place.”

Trey Cockrell – Viers’ attorney – told Tom O’Dare of that his client could have seen far less time had he provided information to investigators about some of the contributions he received in connection with the “Coastal Kickback.”

But Viers – one of several dozen local and state politicians who received the controversial checks back in 2009 – declined to assist prosecutors.

“He took his medicine and he didn’t roll on his friends,” Cockrell told O’Dare. “That carrot was made available.”

Impressive …

We’d have loved for the hammer to have fallen on each and every corrupt politician associated with this notorious scam- and obviously we opposed (and will continue to oppose) the tax hike it led to.

Still, there’s something to be said for Viers’ old school refusal to roll on his friends.  We may not like the outcome of his lack of cooperation, but there’s something commendable about what he did. Or rather didn’t do.

Honor among thieves, or something …

Viers served nearly a decade in the S.C. House of Representatives beginning in 2003.  He resigned his seat in March of 2012 prior to being indicted on harassment charges related to his toxic relationship with Candace Bessinger – the granddaughter of South Carolina barbecue magnate Maurice Bessinger.  He later pleaded guilty to those charges and served sixty days in jail.

Prior to that, in 2006, Viers pleaded “no contest” to threatening a Columbia, S.C. man who was romantically involved with his first wife, Natalie McKelvey.

At the time the harassment charges against Viers became public knowledge, he was a leading candidate for the South Carolina seventh congressional district seat – and had received the endorsement of S.C. governor Nikki Haley in his campaign.

In addition to Bessinger, Viers has been romantically linked in the past to numerous Palmetto luminaries – including Haley and Southern Charm star Kathryn Dennis.

Our guess is his impending release is a reality television show waiting to happen …

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