Heard in the Echo Chamber - Harrell Hypocrisy
The world according to House Speaker Bobby Harrell is governed by a handful of intractable, immutable and incontrovertible laws of nature.
First, he's right and you're wrong. Second, taxpayer dollars were "sent to be spent." Third, budget numbers were made to be manipulated. Fourth, consistency is a matter of when it's convenient to be consistent. And fifth, power is something to be brutally exerted, callously flaunted and ruthlessly expanded at all times and at all costs, whether what you're doing is in the best interests of the state or not.
If "right you are as you think you are" is the code of the modern-day cultural relativists, then Bobby Harrell is the South Carolina political standard-bearer they never knew they had - a smug, smirking poster boy for dozens of similarly truth-evading, ethically-impaired, power-rabid legislators intent on leapfrogging one another up the topmast as opposed to patching the holes below deck on our sinking ship of state.
Flanked by a dozen or so like-minded, principle-challenged blowhards - all fellow Republicans-In-Name-Only (RINO's) - "Captain" Harrell took to the State House steps last week to support his status quo, big government first mates George Bailey, Richard Chalk, Ken Clark, Alan Clemmons, Bill Cotty, Ralph Davenport, Tom Dantzler, Becky Martin, Skipper Perry, Gene Pinson, Adam Taylor, Bill Whitmire and others, and to bemoan the evil influence of corrupting "out-of-state" money in House Republican Primary races.
Specifically, Harrell was attacking two groups - South Carolinians for Responsible Government and the South Carolina Club for Growth - both conservative organizations with sizable in-state membership rolls that are actively lobbying for changes Harrell and his recalcitrant RINO caucus oppose.
Harrell, who just a few weeks ago aggressively defended his right and the right of his colleauges to operate special interest-fed Leadership Political Action Committees (i.e. legislative shakedown machines that essentially buy other Representatives' support on key votes), has apparently found religion when it comes to 501 (c) 4 non-profit advocacy groups.
"These groups come prepared with misleading names, and they want you to think they represent South Carolina's values," Harrell said of SCRG and SC Club for Growth.
Wait a minute, Mr. Speaker, you forgot names like "Palmetto Leadership Council" (Harrell's PAC), "Carolina Commerce Fund" (House LCI Chairman Harry Cato's PAC) or "SC Leadership PAC" (House Ways & Means Chairman Dan Cooper's PAC), didn't you?
No, he didn't.
You see, if your special interest contribution is flowing into Bobby Harrell's pocket so he can funnel it to Representatives intent on maintaining the status quo, then it's "good special interest cash."
If it's going somewhere else, for instance to groups backing candidates that might truly "represent South Carolina's values" and fight for limited government, better educated students and job-creating tax relief, then it's "bad special interest cash."
According to the Speaker's logic, "good special interest cash" would be the $3,500 Harrell's own PAC got from the billboard industry - part of that group's larger effort to ram a blatantly unfair, anti-home rule compensation law down the throats of our state's already over-regulated municipalities, or the $3,500 Harry Cato's PAC got from South Carolina's leading anti-workers' comp reform advocate just a few months prior to the LCI Chairman gutting workers' comp reform and leaving its entrails on his committee room floor.
"Bad special interest cash," apparently, is any contribution that might help elect someone who disagrees with Bobby Harrell's vision of populist tax swaps, ever-expanding government and zero choices for kids trapped in the worst public school system in America.
In attacking groups like SCRG, Harrell neglected to mention that he joined Gov. Mark Sanford and about a dozen other representatives on a school choice trip to Milwaukee in December 2004. That trip was paid for by one of SCRG's chief supporters, the LEAD Foundation.
Harrell may also have forgotten a promise he made to one of the governor's senior advisors on that very trip related to the since-modified Put Parents in Charge bill.
"I'll get it (the original PPIC bill) to the floor of the House as-is," Harrell told the Sanford administration official. "After that, you're on your own."
Of course, we all know now that Harrell didn't even come close to getting PPIC to the floor of the House "as-is." What made it out of his Ways & Means committee was a two-district "pilot program," placed conveniently under the auspices of the virulently anti-choice State Department of Education. Basically, after promising the governor the equivalent of Niagra Falls on the school choice issue, Harrell delivered little more than a leaking faucet.
At last week's press conference, Harrell boasted of the "solid conservative values" of the House members standing behind him, calling them "good Republicans."
Well guess what, Mr. Mayor, they're not Republicans. And they certainly don't have a clue about conservative values, solid or otherwise.
But here's the fun part: You get to spend your "good special interest cash" attempting to justify the re-election of your own, personal Pork Mafia while groups like SCRG and Club for Growth get to spend their "bad special interest cash" exposing your RINO Caucus for what it really is, a bunch of tax-and-spend liberals who have demonstrated proficiency at doing one thing and one thing only - standing in the doorway of change.