Chalk another one up for this news site’s amazing network of sources …
Mainstream media outlets are now confirming our reporting regarding an ongoing criminal investigation into the infamous “Richland County Robbery,” a rigged 2012 election that was followed by an extra-legal fleecing of Midlands-area South Carolina taxpayers.
News of the statewide grand jury’s investigation into the controversial tax hike was exclusively reported by this website late Friday.
On Saturday afternoon, reporter Clif LeBlanc of The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper published his own story on the probe. According to LeBlanc, the investigation dates back “at least five or six months” and involves testimony obtained from “one current or former public official and at least one private business person.”
Unfortunately, that’s about the extent of what LeBlanc knows … which puts him in roughly the same boat as us.
Grand jury investigations are highly secretive affairs, and getting people to talk about what transpires in and around them is exceedingly difficult.
As we noted in breaking this story yesterday, the focus of this probe is not immediately clear. Is the grand jury investigation focused on the rigged election? Or the questionable appropriation of its spoils that took place afterward?
Unfortunately, it sounds as though it’s probably the latter …
Don’t get us wrong, that’s still very important – but from our perspective the real crime here has always been the stolen election, not the stolen money.
To recap: After county residents narrowly rejected this tax hike in 2010, “Republican” and Democratic legislative leaders in Richland County passed a law seizing control of the local election commission. Then they installed their hand-picked puppet as its new leader.
The result of this “coup?” Illegal shortages of voting machines in 2012 – shortages which just so happened to disproportionately target precincts which opposed the tax hike. This led to abnormally long wait times in these districts and the mass disenfranchisement of anti-tax voters.
To comply with state election law, Richland County was supposed to have at least 864 operable voting machines deployed across the county in 2012. At the time of the election, it reportedly had at least 925 operable machines available – more than enough to meet the legal requirement. Another forty-five machines were in possession of the county, but were said to have been inoperable due to various malfunctions.
How many machines were actually deployed? Let’s consult the “smoking gun” email obtained by this website in early 2013 implicating then-director Lillian McBride.
“I just talked with Lillian and she gave me a revised list of the machines needed for the Nov 6 Election,” an unidentified election commission employee wrote to an undisclosed list of recipients. “She got the number down to 605 for machines.”
Here, again, is that memo (note the July 3, 2012 date) …
(Click to view)
That is black-and-white evidence of illegality, people … but nothing has been done about it.
Allegedly involved in the suppression of anti-tax votes? Uber-liberal S.C. Senator Darrell Jackson and his political ally, Democratic operative Antjuan Seawright.
Unfortunately, there has been no justice regarding the stolen vote. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has refused to launch an investigation into the matter, and the S.C. Supreme Court (without comment) upheld the rigged election. Meanwhile McBride was rewarded with a new job and a lifetime pension.
Vintage South Carolina, huh?
“None dare call it treason if it prosper …”
There has been some accountability, though – even before the news of this grand jury became public.
In late 2015, state officials finally began to investigate the money flowing into Richland County coffers though this “approved” tax hike. What were they looking for? Well, state law insists that proceeds from local option levies like this one must be spent on infrastructure projects – not cozy marketing, development, public relations, lobbying or other “administrative” contracts doled out to firms with close ties to county council members.
Last April, former S.C. Department of Revenue (SCDOR) director Rick Reames suspended the disbursement of “penny tax” revenues to Richland County – saying county leaders were spending the money improperly and refusing to bring the program “into compliance with the state’s tax laws.”
(That news was also broken exclusively by this news site).
Reames not only demanded that the extra-legal payments stop, he wanted the county to submit to an annual audit to ensure its ongoing compliance with the law.
Naturally they complied, right? Hell no … they took him to court in an effort to keep the gravy train going.
According to our sources, the current grand jury probe grew out of Reames’ investigation – which actually produced the arrests of former Columbia, S.C. city council member Brian DeQuincey Newman and Richland county council member Kelvin Washington on tax charges.
Hopefully more accountability is on the way. And hopefully at some point some one will get to the heart of the matter – a stolen election.
Stay tuned … we will keep close tabs on this ongoing investigation and let our readers know whatever we’re able to uncover.
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