Powerful South Carolina labor, commerce and industry (LCI) committee chairman Bill Sandifer is the focus of an ethics compliant filed by a North Carolina-based lobbyist, according to a document supplied exclusively to this media outlet.
Sandifer, 78, has represented S.C. House District 2 in rural Oconee and Pickens counties since 1995. Over that time, he has emerged as one of the Palmetto State’s most fiscally liberal, ethically challenged “Republican” lawmakers.
According to the document we were provided, lobbyist Ricky Little – who is listed as the complainant – has accused Sandifer of engaging in pay-to-play politics related to a piece of legislation which has been languishing in his committee for years.
Neither Sandifer nor Little were immediately available for comment. Assuming either of them wishes to go on the record regarding these allegations, our media outlet has an open microphone policy.
According to the alleged complaint, Sandifer first initiated a pay-to-play conversation with Little “in 2017/ 2018.”
“I had a meeting with Chairman Sandifer about the bill,” Little wrote, according to a copy (.pdf) of the complaint we were supplied with. “At the time we were trying to get a hearing on the bill. Chairman Sandifer ask me about money.I was caught off guard by his actions. I played along in the conversation. He gave me his home address for payment.”
His home address? For payment?
Little is a registered lobbyist for Anson Autobody LLC. In that capacity, he purports to work with locally owned “body shops, glass companies, rental car companies and towing companies which are being decimated by lack of action from (Sandifer)’s committee.”
Specifically, he is pushing for the passage of H. 3813 – a bill which would require automobile insurers to include “appraisal clauses” in all new policies and require repair shops to “follow the manufacturer’s instructions on auto body repairs for vehicles produced (since) 2015.”
The bill further states that “a vehicle owner shall not be required by an insurer to travel unreasonable distances into urban areas to obtain an estimate, vehicle repairs, or a rental car” and that insurers operating in the Palmetto State “cannot direct more than half of (their) claims to vendors that are not South Carolina owned companies.”
This media outlet makes no editorial judgment on this legislation – which has been introduced in the House on multiple occasions since the alleged “pay-to-play” threats from Sandifer.
The current version of the bill was introduced in the House on January 25, 2023 and promptly referred to Sandifer’s committee – where it has remained ever since.
“For some reason our working relationship with the chairman went to nothing since the money came up,” Little noted, according to the document. “I sent him nothing. I told three people about that money conversation that day and a couple business owners that (were) depending on this bill.”
According to the document, Little has “tried to meet” with S.C. House speaker Murrell Smith about problems with Sandifer “numerous times” – to no avail.
“I never ever though I would be doing this but I can’t allow this to continue,” Little wrote, according to the document. “We will not be extorted to get the right thing done.”
Sandifer is well-known for his special interest servitude – namely the extent to which he has reflexively done the bidding of Charlotte, North Carolina-based power provider, Duke Energy. Several years ago, Sandifer was involved in a scandal involving improper contributions allegedly received from the utility. In that instance, a Duke executive sent a letter to Sandifer’s constituents informing them the lawmaker was “work(ing) with us to ensure your best interests.”
Duke referred to the mailing as “an allowed in-kind contribution.”
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More egregiously, Sandifer was one of the key legislative enablers of NukeGate – South Carolina’s failed command economic intervention in the nuclear power industry that collapsed spectacularly in 2017. This intervention was supposed to have produced a pair of next generation nuclear reactors near Jenkinsville, S.C.– instead, it left South Carolina taxpayers and ratepayers holding the bag to the tune of more than $10 billion.
Sandifer not only voted in favor of the legislation which socialized much of the investment risk associated with the reactors’ construction – he was a member of the legislative panel created to protect consumers by overseeing the project. He was demoted for his role in the scandal, but somehow managed to keep his influential legislative perch.
The most notorious scandal involving this aging “Republican?” That would be a now-legendary near-fatal incident following an encounter with a woman of negotiable virtue during a government-subsidized trip to Panama City in 2011. Sandifer was forced to remain in Panama City for several days in the aftermath of this incident as he recuperated from his injuries – which were said to have been inflicted upon him by a blackjack weapon.
This news outlet is endeavoring to obtain additional information regarding this alleged complaint – including a signed copy of the document from the S.C. State Ethics Commission (SCSEC). Several state lawmakers familiar with contents of the complaint confirmed they have seen a signed copy of the document – and expressed familiarity with the allegations contained therein.
Count on this media outlet to keep our audience in the loop regarding the status of this alleged complaint …
THE ALLEGED COMPLAINT …
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven (soon to be eight) children.
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