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Koch Brothers SC Group Changes Gears

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A KINDER, GENTLER GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT?

In the alphabet soup of political organizations, Americans For Prosperity (AFP) – the political advocacy group founded by billionaire industrialists Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch – is among the more influential, well-funded and well-organized.

The organization is also – generally speaking – on the right side of many issues that matter to taxpayers, although we’ve never been afraid to call out the Kochs when we felt they were being inconsistent or hypocritical.  Nor have we ever had a problem criticizing AFP as an organization when we felt like it dropped the ball.

By-and-large, though, we have no real problem with this group – and have in fact appreciated its efforts on certain hot-button issues here in the Palmetto State.

Not everyone has the same view, though …

In fact last June we reported on the abrupt departure of the group’s former South Carolina leader – Dave Schwartz.

What happened?

Among his other enemies in the Palmetto State, Schwartz appears to have alienated the Palmetto State’s decidedly non-conservative governor, Nikki Haley.  Specifically, he blasted Haley’s weak ethics reform proposals – which have been panned (along with her hypocrisy on this issue) by this website and many others.

According to our sources, Haley was displeased with Schwartz’s comments – and may have used her influence with the Kochs’ to get him canned.

What leverage did Haley have to accomplish such a coup?  Good question … but we’ve been provided with several promising leads on that front (including one involving a particular transportation project rumored to be of significance to the billionaire brothers).

Anyway, the point is likely moot now that Schwartz is gone … and now that Haley is headed out of state to become U.S. president-elect Donald Trump‘s ambassador to the United Nations.

What’s next for AFP in South Carolina, then?  Well, first off the group has a new leader.  In a news release posted on our website earlier today, the organization announced the hiring of Myrtle Beach, S.C. native Daniel Brennan as its new state director.

Brennan – who has held several positions in and around state government over the years – sounded a decidedly conciliatory tone in taking on his new job.

“I want legislators to know that AFP-South Carolina’s staff and volunteers are ready to get involved and partner to create consensus on meaningful reforms for our state, not just engage in more talk,” Brennan said in a statement included with the release, which made repeated references to “working with legislators.”

That’s quite the contrast with Schwartz’s more aggressive issues advocacy – which at various points during his tenure in South Carolina alienated even those lawmakers who might have been otherwise inclined to assist him on various issues.

Take S.C. Senator Katrina Shealy, who has been an aggressive proponent on several tax and reform bills that one would think might be up AFP’s alley.

“AFP has left a bad taste in the mouth of quite a few of the legislators in the Republican caucus,” Shealy told us this week.  “Some serious bridge building will have to be done and some trust issues overcome before anyone is willing to work with or even have a serious talk with AFP.”

As for this website, we never had a problem with Schwartz.

“Like him or not, (he) has been consistent in his advocacy and unafraid to call out those who haven’t been,” we noted last spring.

Of course, the personalities associated with those advancing issues don’t matter all that much to us.  We care about the issues themselves … and more than that, the outcomes.

That’s the basis on which we judged AFP’s involvement in the Palmetto State previously, and that’s the basis on which we will continue to judge it moving forward.

(Banner via AFP)

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