A New Era of Openness
"Sunlight is the ultimate disinfectant in the political process."
-S.C. Governor Mark Sanford
He's said it at least a million times, probably because it bears repeating. He's also been the biggest force for change in a state that ranked 50th in the nation in "political sunlight" prior to his election three years ago.
Since then, Gov. Mark Sanford has signed a landmark campaign finance reform bill into law (a bill that was vetoed by his predecessor, incidentally) and pushed a reluctant - at times recalcitrant - State Ethics Commission into taking the first baby steps toward online disclosure.
Yesterday, bloggers, mainstream reporters and thousands of concerned citizens across our state once again reaped the benefits of our Governor's ceaseless vigilance on this key issue, taking full advantage of his fundamental insistence that every South Carolinian be able to know who's trying to influence their votes.
But while everybody and their brother in the blogosphere (including us) continues enjoying this gorgeous, sunny Springtime in South Carolina politics, FITS wanted to stop for a second and thank a key behind-the-scenes player, a true sister in the struggle.
Her name is Marisa Crawford, Sanford's new Communications Director and former Director of Cabinet Affairs. It was Crawford, at Sanford's urging, who undertook the monumental effort of bringing our hapless Ethics Commission out of the dark ages and into the light of her boss's new web-based vision. Along the way, she and the governor not only succeeded in getting the first stage of online disclosure (for statewide candidates) up and running, they also found a way to save every penny of the $318,000 the General Assembly reluctantly allocated for its implementation.
That, friends, is what government is supposed to be all about - doing the right thing and protecting the taxpayers of this state while you're doing it.
Ms. Crawford doesn't seek out the limelight (heck, she practically runs from it), and she'll probably never get an award for her amazing work on this issue, but we all owe her and the governor a huge debt of gratitude today.
Hopefully, the next step in this process will be getting our friendly legislative morons - you know, those folks more concerned with spending your money than saving it - to offer their filings online, too.