Lobbyists paid well with your tax $$
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 firstname.lastname@example.org