Category Archives: Fact-Check

Fact-Check: ‘The State’ on S.C. Legislature

As The State reported this morning, the S.C. legislature is at it again today – trying to wrap up the latest session of the General Assembly before Sen. Jake ‘Jakie’ Knotts calls anybody else a “raghead” or accidentally outs any more South Carolina Republican Party rednecks.

Surprisingly, Columbia’s daily coupon circular does a pretty good job outlining the day’s agenda. Nonetheless, ‘The Bug’ did notice a few gaps in their coverage, and a few places where the story behind the story failed to get mentioned, probably because The State’s three-man staff is all in Omaha this week, cheering on Cocky.

Here’s what the Shop Road gang left out:

Voter I.D. Bill

The State says:

The S.C. Senate approved a plan that would require voters to present a photo ID at the polls. But House members aren’t likely to go along, meaning a two-year effort to pass a voter ID law is likely dead. The Senate bill creates a window starting 15 days before an election for no-excuses early voting, which must include at least one Saturday in statewide primaries and general elections. The joint House-Senate compromise allowed only seven days of early voting. The Senate bill allows counties to establish multiple early voting centers, while the House allows only one such center in each county. The Senate bill allows absentee voting on paper ballots any time before an election and by voting machine 30 days prior. The House version required a qualified elector to request an absentee ballot in person, rather than by mail or phone.

The State could be correct in its suggestion that the House will knock down a Senate-approved plan requiring voters to show an I.D. at the polls. They’re also not wrong in their rundown of the various compromises made thus far concerning such issues as absentee voting and paper ballots. What The State fails to mention is why the House really doesn’t like the Senate plan, and how last-minute politicking could swing the balance. Veteran Statehouse-watcher Daryl ‘Dizzy’ Homebody explains:

“What I’m hearing behind the scenes is that certain key members of the House think the Senate bill is really designed to punish U.S. Senate candidate Alvin Greene, who apparently doesn’t even have a military I.D. anymore,” says Homebody. “I’m also hearing the Greene camp is lobbying pretty hard on this one. At this point, it’s probably safest to say ‘anything’s possible.’

Transfer of Power

The State says:

The House and Senate must also settle differences on a bill that would automatically transfer power to the lieutenant governor when the governor is absent for an extended period. The bill, inspired by Gov. Mark Sanford’s disappearance last summer, would give the lieutenant governor authority to act in an emergency if the governor is away from the state and cannot perform his duties for 12 hours or longer. Lawmakers must agree on what actions constitute an emergency.

The State basically gets this one right, at least concerning how the bill came to be. What the paper fails to mention is that state lawmakers have no idea what an emergency is, or what constitutes an absentee governor. According to multiple sources, the entire state has been in a state of emergency since before Reconstruction and we haven’t had a governor who has actually resided on Planet Earth since Dick Riley.

“Looking at the past quarter century,” says one source, “I think we could have transferred power about 95% of the time. Of course, had we done that during Mr. Sanford’s term, we would have really had to haul ass to catch up with [Lt. Governor and notorious lead-foot] Andre Bauer.”

Expunging Criminal Records

This time, The State dropped the ball completely.

The State says:

The House and Senate must also settle differences in a bill that would order destroyed records of arrest when a criminal defendant is acquitted of a crime or a prosecutor decides to drop charges. Lawmakers are still settling on where and how long to keep records of arrest before they are expunged.

It’s not that The State reporters got the story itself wrong, more that they didn’t cover the real story, which once again goes back to nasty election year politics.

“This one’s got Alvin Greene written all over it,” says Homebody.

“The Republicans I’ve talked to say they want to keep Greene’s pending pornography charge on record no matter what the courts decide, and may even want to find a few other charges. State Democrats want to see Greene summarily arrested, transferred to solitary confinement and expunged so completely from the public record that it will appear as though he never even existed.”

More Sanford Vetoes

In this instance, The State is trying to make a news story out of something that nobody who still resides in The Palmetto State would ever mistake for news.

The State says:

Senate lawmakers have more gubernatorial vetoes to consider today. Gov. Mark Sanford has enjoyed his best session yet at striking spending from the state budget. House lawmakers agreed with 51 of Sanford’s 107 spending cuts. The Senate is about halfway through voting on whether they will agree with the House on the cuts it rejected. Among the Sanford cuts the Senate could reject today with a two-thirds vote are:

• Millions of dollars in money the S.C. Department of Revenue is expected to raise that would support public defenders, Wil Lou Gray Opportunity School for at-risk youth and transportation money for the S.C. Education Department.

• $100,000 for the S.C. Commission for the Blind

• $3.1 million to Clemson and S.C. State universities for the schools’ public service programs that give local farmers technical assistance.

Yes, our fact-checkers here at ‘The Bug’ say The State got the facts right, but beyond that, there’s really nothing to report here. Sanford vetoed money for important public agencies, including one that protects the justice system, another that helps our farmers and another that serves the blind? The House did some grandstanding, and now the Senators must each decide what will be in their best interest come November? We could have reported this without even turning on the computer.

–Posted by Bubba Libb

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