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Laurens Referendum: Mike Pitts Alleges Voter Intimidation

South Carolina House ethics chairman Mike Pitts has been in the news lately as it relates to his committee’s supporting role in relation to #ProbeGate – an ongoing criminal investigation into allegations of corruption in state government. This week, Pitts is focusing on allegations of corruption that hit a bit closer…

South Carolina House ethics chairman Mike Pitts has been in the news lately as it relates to his committee’s supporting role in relation to #ProbeGate – an ongoing criminal investigation into allegations of corruption in state government.

This week, Pitts is focusing on allegations of corruption that hit a bit closer to his home …

The ex-cop, who has represented S.C. House District 14 (map) since 2003, wants attorney general Alan Wilson to investigate allegations of voter intimidation related to this week’s controversial property tax referendum in Laurens County, S.C.

This week, Pitts took out an advertisement in The Laurens County Advertiser asking for employees of results-challenged Laurens County School District 55 to contact him if they received “direct or indirect pressure” from district officials to vote in favor of the referendum – which was defeated on Tuesday by a lopsided 77-23 percent margin.

In an interview with reporter Brianna Smith of WSPA TV-7 (CBS – Greenville/ Spartanburg, S.C.), Pitts says he has been contacted by district employees claiming to have received “indirect threats” regarding the vote.   He also says he’s heard from local businesses who were allegedly told that they would lose contracts with the school district if they didn’t support the referendum – which would have raised property taxes in the county to subsidize a dubious $109 million school construction plan.

That’s what prompted him to take out the advertisement.

The S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) has already opened an investigation of this election at the behest of eighth circuit solicitor David Stumbo – news of which broke exclusively on this website.

That investigation is reportedly focused on whether certain voters accepted items of value in exchange for casting their ballots – including the infamous “free fish sandwich” coupons we referenced in our coverage of the referendum results.

For those of you who missed it in our prior coverage, take a look …

(Click to view)

(Cap: Provided)

As we noted in our coverage of SLED’s investigation, we’ve received multiple reports that school officials “made extensive use of taxpayer time and resources to promote this failed referendum.”

“Teachers feared (for) their jobs if they opposed the referendum,” one source told us.

Even though taxpayers prevailed (overwhelmingly) in Laurens County this week, these allegations must be investigated.  And if the allegations are true, those who broke the law must be held accountable.

We applaud Pitts for pushing this issue …

In fact, we wish Richland County, S.C. (our former home) had an advocate like him back in 2012 when its leaders rigged an election in support of a massive tax hike.

Perhaps then that “robbery” would have been exposed instead of getting swept under the rug …

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