A decade (and two tax hikes) later, the notorious “Coastal Kickback” scandal is finally at an end. And just like the #ProbeGate investigation into corruption in state government, nobody is facing much in the way of consequences as a result of this scandal either …
Remember the “Coastal Kickback?” We do …
In the most egregious campaign finance scandal we have ever covered, hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions were funneled through a shadowy network of corporations to select politicians – ostensibly in exchange for their support of a local tax hike that voters never had a chance to approve.
Or for that matter, re-approve.
Specifically, more than $350,000 was delivered to local, state and federal politicians via this shady “network.” Not only that, each of the questionable checks were cut at the same bank – on the same day (in sequential order, no less) – and hand-delivered to the politicians.
Even worse? The proceeds of the tax hike were routed directly into the coffers of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce (MBACC), which is ostensibly using the money to subsidize tourism marketing efforts – which taxpayers have absolutely no business paying for in the first place.
Furthermore, a recent lawsuit has alleged the chamber has misappropriated these funds.
No … it’s South Carolina. Not only is it believable, it is expected. Along with the total lack of ensuing accountability.
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Anyway, most of the politicians who received these checks are no longer in office but a few of them – including state representative Alan Clemmons – still hold positions of influence in state and local government.
No one associated with the “Coastal Kickback” was ever criminally charged in connection with the scandal, and until this month no one had even been cited for violating state ethics law.
This week, though, former MBACC chairman Shep Guyton signed a consent order with the S.C. State Ethics Commission (SCSEC) in which he acknowledged “unintentionally” violating campaign finance laws against excessive contributions.
Wait … “unintentionally?”
Yup. Guyton acknowledged violating the law in his consent order, but claimed it was “due to his mistaken interpretation” of the ethics act.
As a result of the “mistaken interpretation,” the commission reprimanded Guyton for his “unintentional” violation and fined him $33,000 – which he has a year to pay.
And this so-called “watchdog” agency has the audacity to plaster the phrase “Restoring Public Trust in Government” on its website.
What a joke …
As much as we would have liked to have been proven wrong, this is precisely the sort of outcome we predicted years ago once it became clear the justice department of former U.S. president Barack Obama was not going to make a move on those involved in this scandal.
“There will be no accountability in this case,” we wrote in September of 2016. “The SCSEC will take its cut of the action, while the citizens of Myrtle Beach will continue paying a tax that they never had a chance to vote on – the proceeds of which will continue to subsidize no-bid insider contracts and ‘tourism marketing’ efforts that taxpayers should never be compelled to pay for in the first place.”
Which is now exactly what has happened …
Move along, people. Nothing to see here …
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