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Dan Hamilton’s Planned Parenthood Statement Draws Scrutiny

State lawmaker struggles to find consistency on key social conservative issue …

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During a Tea Party debate in Greenville, South Carolina earlier this month, state representative Dan Hamilton – one of thirteen “Republican” candidates running for the Palmetto State’s fourth congressional district (map) – addressed the issue of taxpayer funding for abortion provider Planned Parenthood.

Specifically, Hamilton was asked whether he supported the ongoing government subsidization of this organization – and whether he would vote for “any budget that provided funding to Planned Parenthood.”

“Absolutely not on both counts,” Hamilton responded.  “I will not support budgets that include Planned Parenthood funding.  And if we send the next Congressman from the fourth district to Washington (who) doesn’t agree to that we’ve lost in negotiation already.  We’ve already had people up here who would vote for a budget like that and if we send (them) we’ve lost in negotiation and that’s Negotiation 101 – you can’t give up before you get there.”

We agree …

In the aftermath of Planned Parenthood’s gruesome fetal body parts scandal three years ago, this news site has consistently called for lawmakers at all levels of government to reject public funding for the organization.  In fact, this is precisely the sort of action we urged former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley to take while she was in office.

She never took it, though …

We also singled out Planned Parenthood in an article we published last month slamming U.S. president Donald Trump for yet another capitulation to the Washington machine.  Trump signed a massive omnibus spending bill on March 23 that contained $500 million for the organization, betraying a promise he made on the 2016 campaign trail.

Back to Hamilton’s promise, though …

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We’d be inclined to take the 41-year-old politician far more seriously on this issue had he not voted “aye” on South Carolina’s $30 billion state budget last month – a budget that contained tens of thousands of dollars in taxpayer funding for (wait for it) Planned Parenthood.

In fact, not only did Hamilton vote in favor of this budget – he voted “aye” on the specific section of the spending plan that contained the clearly earmarked Planned Parenthood money.

Take a look …

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We reached out to Hamilton’s campaign for comment and spoke briefly with Logan McVey, an operative from Kentucky who has previously provided us with on-the-record quotes on Hamilton’s behalf.

McVey didn’t approve of this particular line of questioning, though.

First, he questioned whether we would be focusing our attention on any of the other state lawmakers who voted for the Planned Parenthood funding or “just Hamilton.”

Really?  

Are there other congressional candidates campaigning against Planned Parenthood who voted to fund it as recently as last month?

McVey’s next gambit was to suggest our line of questioning was tied to a recent media placement on this news site purchased by the congressional campaign of state senator William Timmons, one of Hamilton’s rivals for this seat.

Yeah … he went there.

The truth is this news site – which published a column from Hamilton last week, incidentally – has been exceedingly tough on Timmons in our prior coverage, and we have every expectation of being tough on him again in the future.  In fact we can think of least two stories we are currently “efforting” (to borrow an old television newsroom term) that are likely to be poorly received by Timmons’ campaign.

Bottom line?  We’ve got dogs in plenty of fights … but not this one.

(Not unless Shannon Pierce suddenly becomes single sometime over the next 43 days, anyway).

Eventually, McVey got around to providing a response to the question we originally posed.

“The federal government provides a $30.5 million match to appropriated funds through the South Carolina state budget that goes directly to funding many different women’s health organizations,” he told us.  “Federal law already bans taxpayer dollars from being used for abortion under the Hyde Amendment.  In addition to this, the governor of South Carolina issued an executive order banning taxpayer dollars from being used for abortions.  If South Carolina did not pass this budget, we would need to come up with an additional $30.5 million that just isn’t there to fund these centers.  The state of South Carolina is submitting a waiver request to the federal government giving them the ability to opt out of funding Planned Parenthood.  In the meantime, this funding from the federal government will continue to be used for keeping the lights on at women’s health centers across South Carolina, not just Planned Parenthood.”

Okay … sohat’s actually a pretty reasonable response.  If only McVey had led with that.

Anyway, will Hamilton’s Planned Parenthood dust-up create issues for his campaign?  Yes.  Most of the candidates seeking this seat are avowed social conservatives (hell, one is a pastor).  Our guess is they will likely use this story as an opening to go after him – hoping to take the shine off his status as one of the race’s frontrunners.

No wonder his campaign was so frustrated by our interrogatory …

Primary voters in both parties head to the polls across South Carolina on June 12.  In races in which no candidate receives a majority of the ballots cast, runoff elections between the top two vote-getters will be held on June 26.  Given that there are thirteen candidates in this race, a runoff is all but inevitable.

In addition to Hamilton and Timmons, potential top tier candidates in this race include Upstate radio host Josh Kimbrell, pastor Mark Burns, former state senator Lee Bright, small businessman James Epley, nurse-turned-CEO Shannon Pierce and former Greenville County GOP chairman Stephen H. Brown.

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