SC Politics

‘Truth’ Group Attacking South Carolina Conservatives Linked To GOP Leadership

“Republican” leaders linked to effort to oust conservative GOP lawmakers …

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The worst-kept secret in South Carolina politics this year was that the flood of deceptive, dark money attacks targeting conservative lawmakers was being orchestrated by the so-called “Republican” majority in the House of Representatives.

These left-of-center uniparty elites certainly haven’t been shy about admitting it. Earlier this year, assistant S.C. House majority leader Jay West publicly begged special interests to subsidize their attack ad onslaught.

“Y’all need to help us get rid of them,” West told a roomful of industry leaders back in January, referring to the conservatives as “crazies.”

The so-called “Palmetto Truth Project” – which our media outlet first exposed last spring – has been the vehicle for this campaign. For the past year, this group has been relentlessly battering members of the S.C. Freedom Caucus, a contingent of approximately sixteen conservative lawmakers who have refused to roll over for the failed status quo at the S.C. State House.

First, some history: From 1878-1994, generations of corrupt, self-serving white Democrats were exclusively to blame for the myriad problems plaguing the Palmetto State. Since 2001, however, legislative power has been exclusively vested in the hands of white “Republicans” – many of whom simply flipped parties (albeit not governing philosophies) as a means of maintaining their power.

The result? A self-serving, self-perpetuating uniparty oligarchy … one which continues to produce atrocious outcomes on virtually every metric that matters.

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Rather than working to reverse those outcomes, “Republican” leaders have done everything within their power to neuter conservatives since obtaining numerical supermajorities following the 2022 elections. Last year, for example, House GOP leaders kicked conservative Republicans out of their caucus for refusing to sign a “loyalty oath” to the establishment. Status quo leaders have also bribed challengers to run against Freedom Caucus members in the upcoming 2024 primary elections – while engaging in other tactics intended to silence dissent on the floor of the S.C. House.

Last fall, I noted that this “Truth” group was operating with the tacit approval of top status quo “Republicans,” including speaker Murrell Smith, ways and means chairman Bruce Bannister, speaker pro tempore Tommy Pope, “majority” leader Davey Hiott and other ranking GOP leaders.

Lately, the approval of these GOP leaders is becoming a lot less “tacit” … and a lot more out in the open.

Late this week, our media outlet was provided with a document linking the “Truth” organization to a prominent Republican consulting firm, Starboard Communications. Run by GOP strategist Walter Whetsell, Starboard is the same company which provides consulting services to the S.C. House GOP Caucus – the political organization behind the “Republican” majority in the lower chamber of the S.C. General Assembly.

Starboard is also, it would appear, the “account administrator” for the Truth group’s official website, PalmettoTruthProject.org.

As you can see below, a source who attempted a password reset on an email address linked to the “Truth” group found an interesting option on the menu …

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Sources familiar with the email address referenced on the reset form indicated it belongs to Amy Bliss-Hall, Starboard’s art director.

Bliss-Hall designs “logos, direct mail, collateral, simple websites, advertising, rack cards, brochures, corporate identity to name a few projects,” according to her LinkedIn profile.

In other words, she produces precisely the sort of political propaganda the “Truth” group is spewing out …

“We are a group of South Carolina business and community leaders joined together to hold our elected officials accountable by telling the TRUTH about votes they take in Columbia,” the group proclaims on its website.

Really?

It seems pretty clear this group is exactly what we’ve been calling it from its inception: A “well-heeled, dark money campaign” being run by the uniparty establishment – which includes the “Republican” leadership of the S.C. House.

As for Whetsell, he made no bones about his company’s work for the “Truth” group.

“We’ve told anyone who’s asked since early this year that we’re helping them,” he said.

Whetsell also pointed out the Freedom Caucus’ vice-chairman, RJ May III, is running races against incumbent lawmakers from his position within the legislature.

“RJ works for the Freedom Caucus, runs races for Freedom Caucus members and runs challenger campaigns to House Caucus members,” Whetsell said. “Not sure what’s wrong with either or what the difference is.”

BANNER: Travis Bell Columbia SC Photographers

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Travis Bell Photography)

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 and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and eight children.

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