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Vincent Sheheen’s Conflicted #NukeGate Status

South Carolina Senator popped by MSM over his conflict of interest …

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We didn’t know this prior to today, but South Carolina lawmakers apparently have a term they like to use whenever our website spawns negative mainstream media coverage against them.

Of course they don’t call our website FITSNews

“Shits News,” one lawmaker told us. “That’s what they call it.”

LOL.  As long as they’re clicking (and subscribing) they can call us whatever they want to.

Anyway, the term (pardon their french) is called the “triple shit.”

How does it work?

“You hit them, the MSM pick it up, then you brag about it,” one lawmaker told FITS founding editor Will Folks this week. “Three hits – triple shit.”

Ha!  We love it …

Two weeks ago, we popped Democratic State Senator Vincent Sheheen for his hypocrisy related to #NukeGate – the mushrooming scandal surrounding an abandoned nuclear power project in Jenkinsville, S.C.  That story has apparently prompted some mainstream media coverage.  And now the “brag.”

Some background: On July 31, government-run utility Santee Cooper – which was partnering with private sector utility SCANA on the V.C. Summer nuclear power plant expansion – announced it was pulling the plug on the project (even though eight days earlier it proposed rate increases on consumers specifically earmarked for this nuclear facility).

This massive undertaking was supposed to produce a pair of next-generation nuclear reactors at a cost of $9.8 billion – reactors that were supposed to come online last year.  The money was spent … but the reactors remain unfinished.  Some estimates indicate they could cost another $9 billion to complete (i.e. twice the original price tag).  In fact, Santee Cooper’s former CEO – who got a $16 million golden parachute for his role in this debacle – claims another $16 billion is required to complete the project.

Unreal …

Whatever the cost, Santee Cooper’s decision to pull the plug on the project killed an estimated 5,600 jobs, squandered billions of dollars in investment (including more than $2 billion raised through rate increases on consumers), threw the state’s energy future into chaos and cost Santee Cooper its credit rating.

(Click to view)

(Via: SCANA)

#NukeGate has also sent Palmetto politicians who bear direct responsibility for the fiasco scrambling for political cover.  Governor Henry McMaster, in particular, has been desperately trying to find a buyer for Santee Cooper – or at least one willing to take on the state-owned utility’s 45 percent stake in the V.C. Summer project.

So far he’s had no success – in no small part given his status as a wholly owned subsidiary of South Carolina’s failed government-subsidized power conglomerate (see here and here).

Other politicians – including Sheheen – have been buys playing the CYA game.

The basic point of our post?  That Sheheen – who is currently suing one of the government-subsidized utilities responsible for the debacle – was among the lawmakers responsible for creating this problem in the first place.

A decade ago, state lawmakers authorized the raising of electricity rates on consumers as a means of subsidizing the V.C. Summer project.  This was done via Act 16 of 2007, the so-called “Base Load Review Act.”

Sheheen wasn’t an original sponsor of this bill, but he was a member of the Senate judiciary committee that approved it – and he was present and voting in the Senate chamber on April 12, 2007, the day the Base Load Review Act unanimously cleared the chamber on a voice vote.

Now he wants to sue the company that took advantage of this gift-wrapped crony capitalist handout?

That makes no sense …

Last week, reporter Avery Wilks of The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper ran an article addressing Sheheen’s lawsuit.  His coverage didn’t go into Sheheen’s complicity related to the Base Load Review Act, it merely pointed out that his participation in the lawsuit could leave his constituents “without a voice in the Senate’s debate over the nuclear debacle.”

“Senator Sheheen will recuse himself from voting on any matters which present a conflict of interest under ethics rules,” Democratic advisor Antjuan Seawright told Wilks. “And he will confer with ethics counsel if any related matters come up to be voted on.”

Sheheen doesn’t have to face the voters of S.C. Senate District 27 (map) until 2020, but given his district’s trend lines it’s abundantly clear he is going to have a fight on his hands.

Was this lawsuit a smart move?

It’s nice to be able to say “I’m suing the bad guys,” but Sheheen’s move strikes us as shortsighted.  And likely to be perceived as self-serving.  Also given his history on the issue, it strikes us as pretty stupid.

***

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