In the latest bizarre twist related to our founding editor’s ongoing source protection court case, former South Carolina majority leader Kenny Bingham’s attorney has served notice of his intention to depose Bingham’s successor as S.C. House majority leader.
Attorney Johnny Parker served notice last week indicating that he intends to depose state representative Bruce Bannister – who appeared in court two months ago in connection with this case.
That deposition is tentatively scheduled for Friday, September 8 at 11:00 a.m. EDT in Greenville, S.C.
As our readers will recall this website’s founding editor, Will Folks, appeared in a Lexington County, S.C. courtroom on July 28 after failing to reveal confidential sources related to a pending civil lawsuit Bingham has filed against him (and against this website).
For the complete background on this case, click here.
Attorneys for Bingham want to know who Folks’ confidential sources are. To that end, they have asked for Folks to be fined or imprisoned “or a combination of both” until he reveals them, according to an article published by reporter John Monk of The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper.
Bannister (below) has indicated he represents one of the confidential sources in this case.
(Click to view)
Where is all of this going?
Good question …
In May of 2015, Folks and FITSNews were sued for allegedly defaming Bingham in an article published in December of 2014. Bingham claims we libeled him in that post – and subsequent posts – by discussing an ethics complaint allegedly filed against him by libertarian activist Colin Ross.
Ross went on the record with my website in December 2014 regarding this complaint against Bingham (and provided us with an on-the-record copy of the complaint itself).
Not only that, he’s signed an affidavit in connection with Bingham’s lawsuit attesting to all of these facts …
Bingham’s counter? In court filings he claims one of his political intimates, state representative Rick Quinn, told us Ross’s report was “not true” – and that this statement should have been enough to stop us from publishing any information about it.
Quinn, incidentally, has since been indicted on two counts of misconduct in office.
Even if Quinn were an unbiased and credible source regarding these allegations against his longtime political crony (which he wasn’t) – we couldn’t have taken him at his word on this particular matter.
Why not? Thanks to the corrupt self-policing rules of the state’s legislative “ethics” committees, a shroud of secrecy surrounds complaints filed against state lawmakers. Only members of these committees are allowed to see – or even discuss – these complaints once they have been submitted.
Given that Quinn is not a member of the ethics committee, he would have had no way of knowing whether such a report had been filed.
In other words, it is impossible for this website to have acted with “reckless disregard for the truth” in connection with this case – which according to the U.S. Supreme Court (Times v. Sullivan) is the standard public officials must prove in order to win a libel judgment.
Despite the main thrust of this lawsuit being fairly cut-and-dried, S.C. circuit court judge Keith Kelly – whom we frequently criticized for casting fiscally liberal votes during his tenure as a state lawmaker – issued a ruling last year demanding that this website give up certain confidential sources related to the case.
Some of these sources were completely unrelated to the substance of Bingham’s complaint – having provided information this website declined to publish. Others are only tangentially connected to it, having provided information related to #ProbeGate – an ongoing investigation into public corruption in state government.
All of these sources were granted anonymity to speak freely, however, and as our founding editor testified two months ago he is “duty-bound” to keep those covenants.
Stay tuned … if we receive any additional information related to this upcoming deposition of Bannister by Bingham’s attorney, we’ll be sure to pass it along.
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Banner via Travis Bell Photography