Category Archives: Frank Lee Reports

Amazon Moving On; Wal-Mart to Live Another Day

BOX CONTAINS 1200 JOBS: HANDLE WITH CARE

Online retailer Amazon probably won’t be coming to Cayce after all – and that’s great news to local retailers like Wal-Mart and Toys-R-Us.

During former Governor Mark Sanford’s administration, Amazon had been promised a special exemption from sales tax collection and a free site near I-77 on which a one million square foot distribution center is currently under construction. In exchange, the company pledged to bring 1,249 high-paying jobs to the Midlands and to create a free wi-fi zone that would stretch from the proposed center to the Zesto cone in Triangle City.

Following a 71-47 vote against the tax incentive in the South Carolina House of Representatives, however, Amazon has decided it would prefer to locate in one of the other 49 states in the Union, all of which are reportedly interested in working with the company, according to sources familiar with the nature of capitalism.

“Hell yes we’ll take it,” said Bernie Bugler, head of the Charlotte-based economic development agency South Carolina’s Loss, North Carolina’s Gain.

“Jobs are jobs,” said Bugler. “Not only that, they’re promising jobs.”

Of course, opponents of the Amazon deal here in the Midlands saw the proposed tax break differently—as a potential blow to local businesses. Tea Party activist and former Lexington County councilman Don Treadamay, one of a few dozen protesters who lined up outside the Statehouse this week dangling Lipton teabags from their testicles in protest of the proposed deal, described his stance as one of principle.

“I love capitalism,” Treadamay told The Bug following Wednesday’s anti-Amazon rally. “I love shopping. I love a good sale. I love filling up the spare bedrooms of my Red Bank town house with the exact same worthless plastic garbage you can find for cheap on Amazon. But at the end of the day, when you look at the big picture, we’ve got to support our local businesses.”

“I mean, how the heck is my local Wal-Mart or the Toys-R-Us where my grandkids shop supposed to compete with some national mega-retailer like Amazon?” Treadamay asked to a chorus of cheers from his fellow Teabaggers. “If we don’t send a message now, we stand to lose more than a few hundred jobs. We stand to lose our entire way of life.”

-by Frank Lee

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Sanford Steps Out…Again

Some men are just wired to cheat, especially in the sex-steeped world of consevative American politics.

Take S.C. love-guv and mountaineering globetrotter Mark Sanford. Almost a year to the day after he hiked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail — all the way down to the southern hemisphere to dig a hole in soulmate Maria Belen Chapur’s Buenos Aries backyard –Governor Sanford slipped away from the Argentine capital for a quickie with ex-wife Jenny ‘Staying True’ Sanford.

According to The Palmetto Bug’s Buenos Aries bureau chief Gina Sniff, Sanford did not notify anyone in the sultry South American city of his travel plans, not even his security detail.

“We were under the impression he was somewhere up in the Andes,” Sanford’s South American press secretary Gillermo Folkado told reporters gathered outside the villa shared by the sometime-governor and Chapur.

As it turned out, Sanford had actually jetted off to the Palmetto State, where he maintains a small mansion for use when he’s visiting in his capacity as a lame duck adulterer. He is seldom seen in South Carolina these days but was spotted in the Capital City earlier this month issuing vetos, according to representatives of several crucial state agencies who had their funding indiscriminately slashed.

Sanford also makes it back from time to time to go hiking with his family, sources say, or to pursue his other hobbies.

“He likes to get a little strange sometimes,” one prominent local blogger told the Bug, referring to Sanford’s interests in coffin building and holediggery.

While in-state this time, Sanford attended a victory party for newly annointed gubernatorial candidate Nikki “You Must be Joking — I Slept with Who?” Haley. It was during that party that the governor was caught on tape getting frisky
with ex-first lady Jenny.

Chapur has declined to comment on her runaway soulmate’s latest rendezvous, but is rumored to be writing a tell-all memoir. Due out sometime after the governor leaves office, Muy Gobernador purportedly chronicles their on-again/off-again romance as well as Sanford’s clumsy attempts to learn the tango.

Meanwhile, owners of the full-length smut tape (which reportedly also shows Sanford denying federal stimulus in nothing but chaps and a hairshirt) are said to be in negotiations with the producers of the popular Pols Gone Wild DVDs.

UPDATE: Recent reports that Sanford, Haley and former press secretary Will Folks left Haley’s victory party early for “an inappropriate camping trip” have not been substantiated, even by Folks’ blog.

-Posted by Frank Lee
(Correspondent Gina Sniff contributed to this story)

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Candidate Greene Shows Savvy Hand

Greene's Nonstop Senate Campaign in Full-Gear

After weeks of bafflement regarding U.S. Senate candidate Alvin Greene’s meteoric rise to power, answers are beginning to emerge about just how the mysterious Man from Manning became the biggest powerbroker in the South Carolina Democratic Party.

According to a story published on the website of Columbia TV station WIS, Greene has been actively campaigning for the Senate for months, and doing it where he could meet the most people and have the greatest possible impact, while also racking up savings on everything from Doritos to color copies — all the stuff his grassroots campaign will need to take on Republican incumbent Jim DeMint this November.

Instead of participating in televised debates or making stump speeches, WIS reports, Greene’s been pumping hands and kissing babies at Wal-Mart:

A woman from Greene’s hometown of Manning says she saw Greene campaigning. Neathery Elliott said Greene stopped her while she was in a checkout line in a Wal-Mart in Manning while he was raising votes.

“I asked him what he was up to these days and he said, ‘yeah, I’m running for the Senate,'” recalled Elliot. “I said, ‘that’s wonderful.’ He said, ‘Yeah, I’m running on the Democratic ticket.'”

And apparently, Greene did not limit his campaigning to the Manning Wal-Mart. Sources have also spotted the tireless campaigner at several other Clarendon County Wal-Marts, including locations in Turbeville and Summerton.

“It’s a beautiful strategy,” says political consultant G.O. Peterson, who calls Greene’s decision to stick to Wal-Marts within a forty mile radius “populism at its best.”

Paxson, South Carolina home gardener Jamal Clyburn could not agree more. Clyburn says he has seen Greene twice at the Turbeville location, both times in the potted plant department.

“The first time, I was looking at fertilizers and pesticides and didn’t know which one would kill stuff and which one would make stuff grow,” says Clyburn. “And since he was just standing there, too, I went ahead and asked him, did he have a green thumb?”

“That’s when he stuck out his hand and said, ‘Yeah I do, in fact my name is Greene—Alvin Greene—and I’m running for U.S. Senate,” Clyburn recounts with a laugh.

“I saw him again the next week, right there in the same place, same green t-shirt and everything, just working the vote,” says Clyburn.

Clyburn hasn’t made up his mind about Greene’s platform, which he says he doesn’t know much about yet. Still, he says Greene is one heck of a campaigner.

“Oh yeah,” says Clyburn. “Just in the ten minutes we was standing there talking about plant food he must have told two or three people about his campaign. Same thing the next week. We haven’t seen that level of political commitment in these parts since I don’t even know when.”

-Posted by Frank Lee

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Cockfighting ‘No Big Deal’

Good, Clean Fun at the Cockfight!

Cockfighting fans got some good news today when a Swansea judge reversed his decision to sentence an Orangeburg man to two years in prison after he was caught on video attending two different cockfights earlier this year. The defendant, Chad Gable, 36, will now have to pay fines and court costs equal to $4,200. Earlier reports that he is not permitted to attend another cockfight for at least six months have not been substantiated.

Swansea Magistrate William Shockley initially sentenced Gable to two consecutive one-year sentences but changed his mind after Gable’s attorneys argued that it was their client’s constitutional right to request a jury trial. Meanwhile, outside the courtroom, several of Gable’s supporters argued that the defendant shouldn’t be punished for requesting a trial when many residents in the economically depressed area depend on the $30/day juror compensation fee to feed their families and put spurs on their chickens’ feet.

Critics have argued that the initial sentence was only handed down after Gable insisted on a jury trial, perhaps thinking his peers would let him off for something many rural South Carolinians consider a cultural tradition and an affordable alternative to “high-ticket” sporting events like USC football games and amateur bowling.

“Some of us, this is about all we got, it’s what we do,” said one longtime cockfighting fan who asked to remain nameless fearing similar retribution in his own upcoming trial.

“It ain’t like it’s hurting nobody,” said the source. “And we usually eat the dead birds anyways, once it’s all done and we sweep out all the feathers and blood and all. I just don’t really see what everybody’s squawking about. It’s not a big deal, is it?”

–posted by Frank Lee

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State Rep. Misses Vote, Claims Confusion

S.C. state representative Grady Cooter (R-Horry) missed today’s vote on Governor Mark Sanford’s multiple line item budget vetoes because he mistakenly thought the chamber was meeting to vote on the state’s official snack food.

“When my office called to say I needed to get my butt up to Columbia this morning, I thought [the vote] was about Fritos,” said Cooter via cell phone from his johnboat on the Pee Dee river. “Had anybody told me what we was really talking about was vetoes I might could’ve waited to go fishing ’til tomorrow.”

Asked how he would have voted had he been present for the much-publicized budget vote, however, Cooter once again became confused.

 “That all depends,” said the five-term Republican representative and well-known vending machine kingpin, who could be heard spinning his reel in the background. “It’s not that I think Fritos is all that bad a snack food, really — sometimes my wife crushes ’em up and puts ’em on chilli with a slice of Velveeta, which is delicious — but if you gonna sit there and ask me, Do I want a bag of corn chips representing me and representing the good state of South Carolina, I do not. If it’s up to me, I’m more a pork rind man.”

-posted by Frank Lee

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The Elephant in the Room

Palmetto State Congressman and Republican cheerleader Joe Wilson may be at it again. According to Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the infamous Mouth of the South is blowing a brand new horn — and stinking up the Palmetto State while he’s at it.

Speaking about the recent Alvin Greene mess on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday, Clyburn suggested a much wider, much more unsavory conspiracy that stretches well beyond the mild-mannered Greene:

“Now all of a sudden, we see that Congressman Joe Wilson’s campaign manager was, in fact, managing the campaign of my primary opponent. I saw the patterns in this. I know a Democratic pattern, I know a Republican pattern, and I saw in the Democratic primary, elephant dung all over the place.”

 And that’s not the half of it.

As TPMMuckraker reports, Clyburn’s Democratic primary opponent Gregory Brown, who is also African-American, paid the political consulting firm Stonewall Stretegies $24,000 for “marketing materials.” Stonewall Strategies is run by former Wilson aide Preston Grisham.

Grisham has managed Wilson’s campaigns in the past but is perhaps better known as the bestselling author of the political thriller novels The Other Client, The Other Partner and A Time to Kill the S.C. Democratic Party.

As for Wilson, you may recall his antics from President Barack Obama’s health care address last year when the boisterous South Carolinian made international headlines by shouting, “You’re a lying black Muslim, I’m an honest white Christian, and you can’t make me pay for some Mexican heathen’s healthcare! God Bless America! The South will rise again! If you don’t believe me, I’ve got the lapel flag and the snazzy blue pametto tree cuff links to prove it!”

By multiple accounts, Wilson plans to keep his mouth shut this time, as the ongoing Greene scandal stands to help the G.O.P and its own senate candidate Jim Demint, but that doesn’t mean the vocal Lexington County Republican has kept a low profile in every respect.

As one political analyst told ‘The Bug’ on Monday, “Sooner or later, every elephant’s gotta take a dump someplace, and when they do it usually stinks, and it’s usually in South Carolina.” 

–Posted by Frank Lee

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Questions Raised by Greene’s Hard Drive

The recent media frenzy surrounding surprise South Carolina Senate candidate Alvin Greene has the entire country asking big and serious questions: “Who is this 32-year-old Army vet with the mysterious military service record?” “Where did an indigent sex offender get the $10,000 necessary to file with his candidacy the state Democratic party?” “How did an unemployed homebody that lives with his 81-year-old father manage to beat his well-funded opponent Vic Rawl by an 18-point margin without making a single campaign stop?”

Greene on his TRS-80 webcam

These are real and legitimate questions deserving real and legitimate answers. They’re also a significant distraction from an even-bigger, even more serious question people are only recently beginning to ask:

Exactly what sort of “pornographic image” is the mild-mannered Mr. Greene accused of showing a USC coed back in November?

At this point, no one is willing to say definitively. However, several sources familiar with Greene’s case have shared conflicting reports regarding what may have been on his portable computer that fateful day at USC’s Thomas Cooper Library.

“I haven’t seen the image myself, but several reliable people in the blogosphere are saying it was a picture of Will Folks and Larry Marchant,” said one source on the condition of anonymity and a free meat-and-three at Lizard’s Thicket.

Folks, of course, is the conservative South Carolina blogger who accused Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley of astonishingly bad taste during the run-up to her own party’s recent primary contest. Marchant is the former campaign consultant for Lt. Governor Andre Bauer who claimed Haley tried to convert him after a national Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell rally in Salt Lake City.

In another new development, Manning, S.C. Confederate reenactor and part-time electrician Taylor Boothe claimed Saturday to have serviced Mr. Greene’s hard drive prior to his arrest. Boothe says the presumptive Democratic nominee’s TRS-80 contained a significant cache of questionable material.

Confiscated Hardware

“Once I got up in there I uncovered all kind of sick stuff,” Boothe told ‘The Bug’ from his double-wide home-office in southwest Clarendon County. “There was DOS files and some kind of Pong game, a whole bunch of Basic programming code, you name it. But what really struck me was the floppies. This guy had the most floppies I ever seen, most of them made in Korea.”

Boothe, who also volunteered at a polling station in downtown Manning during last Tuesday’s primary, said he did not see Greene on election day.

Of course, allegations of a Folks-Marchant tryst and an overabundance of floppy disks aren’t the only un-provable rumors currently circulating the Capital City. A source with close ties to the Lexington County Republican Party says that Greene’s computer is actually a government-issue PDA similar to those used by U.S. intelligence officers in Afghanistan and Kuala Lumpur. The same source tells The Bug that the pictures in question actually show Republican state senator Jake Knotts at the Richland County Public library, reading a book.

Jakie hits the books

This last allegation has raised eyebrows in political circles across the state, prompting officials from both parties to ask for a thorough and complete investigation.

“If the senator’s been reading anything, it’s news to me,” said one of Knotts’ closest political allies who asked that his name be withheld until after casting finishes for Dukes of Hazzard II, which is currently in pre-production and is rumored to co-star Knotts as a portly Southern sherrif.  

“Jakie’s not a big reader,” the source added. “In fact, the only books I ever seen him pick up was the Idiot’s Guide to Pulled Pork Barbecue and the abridged King James.”

-Posted by Frank Lee

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