In case you hadn’t noticed it, South Carolina has a cancer at its center … and no, we are not talking about the increasingly expensive, incestuous corruption/ chronic incompetence emanating from the S.C. State House in downtown Columbia, S.C. (although that is certainly part of the problem).
This time, we are referring to the actions of a host of local governments operating in and around the center of the state – particularly in Richland and Lexington counties, which surround the state capital.
This news outlet has written extensively in the past on corruption in the Midlands region of South Carolina.
“Will the scandals ever stop?” we wondered in a post published just last month.
That article centered on corruption in Richland county government – which is the focus of an ongoing statewide grand jury investigation. Since then, our news director Mandy Matney has published multiple stories related to questionable spending and other issues of concern at Richland county school district one (see here, here and here).
According to our sources, there is an ongoing investigation into that local government, too … although it is not immediately clear which entity is leading the inquiry (or its focus).
Stay tuned for more on that in a future report …
City of Columbia, S.C. leaders are also no strangers to scandal, obviously … habitually shortchanging legitimate local needs in favor of speculative economic development projects (not to mention pushing demonstrably unconstitutional ordinances that invite costly, un-winnable legal battles that must be shouldered by taxpayers).
Worst of all? There are troubling “connectors” between many of these ethically challenged governmental entities … representatives of one local government who are profiting off of decisions made by another (and vice versa).
Where should we even start in attempting to untangle this web?
(Click to view)
(Via: Getty Images)
Well, that is where you come in …
Much of this news outlet’s prior coverage on the various and sundry indiscretions allegedly being perpetrated by local governments in the Midlands region of South Carolina has originated from our readers.
From your tips …
We have been able to chase down a lot of these leads, while collecting new information through our own research as well as through the excellent work of journalists at other media outlets – including The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper and The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier.
Both of these outlets have broken their share of big stories on misbehaving Midlands’ governments in recent months … but like us, both could be doing more.
Accordingly, over the next few weeks we will be digging even deeper into these local governments – hoping to uncover additional information on their activities while providing important context on the various “connectors” at play. Additionally, we will be exerting our editorial influence more aggressively in pushing those with the ability to hold these governments accountable to do just that.
Will you help us?
If you have a tip on incompetence, embezzlement, malfeasance, misappropriation, misconduct, nepotism, favoritism, cronyism … or any other corrupt, unethical or inappropriate behavior being undertaken by local government agencies/ officials in the Midlands region of the state … please let us know.
And remember, the more information you are able to provide us about the tip (i.e. documents, emails, photographs, messages, spreadsheets, etc.) the easier it will be for us to confirm it. And the faster we can get it into print!
We are talking all local governments, too: Municipalities (towns and cities), county governments, school boards, elected/ appointed officials, boards and commissions … you name it.
All submissions will be considered anonymous (unless you tell us otherwise), and remember … this news outlet’s reputation for protecting its sources is the stuff of South Carolina legend.
Source protection for us goes beyond serious … it is sacred.
You can submit your information through our tip line or by sending emails to our founding editor Will Folks ([email protected]) and to our news director Mandy Matney ([email protected]) – preferably using the subject header “Midlands Accountability Project.”
We already have a running list of stories we are working on related to Midlands-area corruption, but our hope is this solicitation will open the floodgates even further and help us expand and refine our planned coverage.
We hope you will consider joining this push to provide greater accountability to the Midlands region of the state by supporting our new investigative/ editorial effort. The citizens and taxpayers of central South Carolina clearly deserve far better than they are getting from their elected leaders, and our hope is enough of them are ready to demand better … by becoming active participants in creating the change they seek.
Stay tuned … we look forward to embarking on this exciting new project with you!
WANNA SOUND OFF?Got something you’d like to say in response to one of our stories? We have an open microphone! Please feel free to submit your own guest column or letter to the editor via-email HERE. Got a tip for us? CLICK HERE. Got a technical question or a glitch to report? CLICK HERE. Want to support what we’re doing? SUBSCRIBE HERE.