Several years ago, the South Carolina Supreme Court failed to take action in the aftermath of a rigged election in Richland County, S.C.
This week, the court finally stepped up – ruling that the proceeds of this “stolen vote” (roughly $1.2 billion in sales tax revenue) must be spent in accordance with state law. Has this money been spent in accordance with state law (i.e. on infrastructure projects)? Um, hell no.
Thankfully, the state’s high court reversed a lower court ruling related to the infamous “Richland County Robbery” – upholding a prior injunction against the county which found that its leaders were illegally spending sales tax proceeds on items that had nothing to do with infrastructure.
Road repairs is what county voters were “sold” on back in 2012 – although as we have meticulously documented it took some serious election rigging to get this particular tax hike across the finish line.
And once it got across the line, the payoffs began …
Remember this drama? Two years ago, former S.C. Department of Revenue (SCDOR) director Rick Reames uncovered glaring illegalities in the way the proceeds of this tax hike were being spent. As a result, Reames turned off the spigot until the county started complying with the law.
Unfortunately, his action was overturned by a lower court.
Now the high court has ruled in Reames’ favor …
“We find an injunction is appropriate,” the court ruled. “To ensure objective criteria establishing compliance with the (act), the County shall be subject to guidelines for determining whether expenses are properly allocable to a specific transportation project, or the direct administration of a specific transportation project. Accordingly, the County is hereby enjoined from violating the (act).”
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(Via: S.C. Judicial Branch)
“We trust that Richland County will abide by the injunction,” the court added. “If, however, Richland County violates the injunction, (SCDOR) may renew its request for the appointment of a receiver.”
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. They then proceeded to install their hand-picked puppet as its new leader.
The result of this “coup?” Illegal shortages of voting machines in 2012 – shortages which were targeted disproportionately in districts where the tax hike was opposed. This led to abnormally long wait times 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. 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)
Last fall, this news site exclusively reported that a statewide grand jury was probing this heist – although it’s not immediately clear whether the investigation is focused on the stolen vote or the questionable appropriation of its spoils.
That should have been the beginning of a siege … but unfortunately no one had Reames back (until this Supreme Court ruling, anyway).
Bottom line? We’re glad there is finally some long-overdue accountability related to the proceeds of this glorified theft … but five-and-a-half years later there remains no accountability for the voter suppression tactics that were employed to steal this election.
Hopefully at some point the U.S. Department of Justice – which is supposed to protect citizens who have been disenfranchised – will do its job and investigate this matter. In fact, we would put a long-overdue probe of this rigged election at the very top of the “to-do” list for the next U.S. attorney for the state of South Carolina.
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