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    Who are these people and what are they doing? - Photo courtesy The Nerve

Lobbyists paid well with your tax $$

Universities, Santee Cooper, others lobby lawmakers
What lobbyists do was not revealed but you can bet it included letting them spend more tax money

By RICK BRUNDRETT

Special to the Chronicle

Almost $1 million in your taxes were paid to SC agency lobbyists in the 1st 5 months of this year.
What the lobbyists do was not revealed but you can bet it included letting them spend more tax money.
From Jan. 1 through May 31, 44 state and local agencies including taxpayer-owned Santee Cooper and local fire and water/sewer districts, collectively spent at least $812,661 on lobbyists, we found in State Ethics Commission records.
Lobbyist payments represent only a small part of what public agencies spent to influence state officials. 
• Clemson University paid 3 lobbyists $25,065.
Clemson also paid lobbyist Angela Leidinger, its vice president for external affairs, another $248,018 annually.
Clemson paid another lobbyist, Mark Cothran, its associate vice president of governmental affairs, $121,112. 
Clemson’s database contained no salary information for the 3rd lobbyist, Michael Wright, its director of governmental affairs.
Clemson also has a 6-person Office of Governmental Affairs in a high-rise building across the street from the State House in Columbia.
• The University of South Carolina paid 7 lobbyists $62,500. 2 lobbyists work for the university,
Derrick Meggie is director of state government relations. Craig Parks is director of government relations,
Meggie and Parks each make $180,000 annually.
4 other lobbyists including Billy Boan, a former SC House member, work in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Columbia office, headed by former Gov. Jim Hodges.
• The Medical University of SC paid 3 lobbyists $48,359.  Lobbyist Mark Sweatman is MUSC’s chief of governmental affairs and secretary to the board,
Another lobbyist, Katherine Haltiwanger, is a university legislative liaison. 
The 3rd lobbyist, Quenton Tompkins, is MUSC’s government affairs manager,.
• Santee Cooper, which lawmakers may sell after its failed $9 billion nuclear fiasco, reported paying $56,917 to lobbyists Geoffrey Penland and Yvette Rowland.
As Santee Cooper’s manager of state and federal government relations, Penland’s salary is $175,047.
As senior state and federal government relations liaison, Rowland’s is $160,000.
• The SC Ports Authority and SC Research Authority paid lobbyists $30,080.
In 2003, then-Gov. Mark Sanford banned cabinet agencies from hiring outside contractors to lobby,
Despite that, Gov. Henry McMaster hired a law and consulting firm under an “emergency procurement” contract to lobby the federal government at a taxpayer cost of $15,000 a month.

   Brundrett is news editor of The Nerve (www.thenerve.org). Contact him at rick@thenerve.org

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