September 30, 2014

Kentucky GOP Senator Rand Paul stops by USC campus

Kentucky GOP Senator Rand Paul listens to a question on Tuesday

Kentucky GOP Senator Rand Paul listens to a question on Tuesday

Kentucky GOP Senator Rand Paul made stops in South Carolina Tuesday.

Speaking on the University of South Carolina campus in Columbia, the potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate said if troops are needed to fight ISIS in the Middle East, they should not be American soldiers.

“Boots on the ground ought to be Saudi Boots, Iraqi Boots, Kuwaiti Boots, Qatari Boots, but no U.S. troops.” Paul said. The senator added he is not opposed to the entire way that the U.S. is dealing with the ISIS crisis in the Middle East, he just doesn’t like how the president went about doing it.

Also on his stop on the USC campus, Paul said the Republican Party is interested in what younger voters have on their minds. His visit to South Carolina was aimed at the youth vote. Later that afternoon, Sen. Paul also spoke at the College of Charleston.

The senator, who has not yet said if he is running for president in 2016, has made several trips to the Palmetto State. He visited a York County GOP fundraiser back in late August. Last year, he spoke to cadets at The Citadel.

Two GOP leaders drop out of SC House Speaker’s race, clearing way for Lucas

Acting House Speaker Jay Lucas (Image: SCETV)

Acting House Speaker Jay Lucas (Image: SCETV)

It appears acting SC House Speaker Jay Lucas will soon have the word “acting” dropped from his title.

Two Republicans who had been vying for the Speaker position sent a letter to their colleagues on Tuesday that announced they were dropping out of the race. State Reps. Kenny Bingham, R-Cayce, and Jim Merrill, R-Charleston, are both former GOP House Majority Leaders who had been seeking the chamber’s most powerful position.

The move almost certainly clears the way for Lucas, a Hartsville Republican believed to have bipartisan support, to be elected Speaker when legislators return for a special session after Election Day.

“After reading articles that confirm a commitment to change by each of the candidates for Speaker, it is time to move forward,” Bingham and Merrill wrote. “For that reason, we are withdrawing our names from con-sideration and announcing our support for Representative Jay Lucas.”

The letter noted that Lucas has committed to seeking rule changes that will term limit the position of Speaker, allow each committee to hire its own staff (rather than each being hired by the Speaker’s Office), and establishing a committee to review all House rules and make additional reform recommendations.

Lucas has been serving as acting speaker since House Speaker Bobby Harrell suspended himself from office earlier this month. Harrell’s move came a day after a Richland County grand jury indicted him on nine counts related to misusing campaign funds and misleading state ethics officials. Harrell has repeatedly insisted he did not intentionally violate the law.

Harrell was first elected speaker in 2005. Lucas had been serving as the chamber’s second-in-command since 2011.

Spartanburg cross-country coach charged with DUI while driving team

Spartanburg High School (Image: Spartanburg District 7)

Spartanburg High School (Image: Spartanburg District 7)

An assistant cross-country coach at Spartanburg High School has been relieved of her duties after her DUI arrest that occurred while she was driving several athletes to a meet in the Charleston area.

Spartanburg School District 7 said in a statement Monday that Dedra Kiser had been placed on administrative leave while the September 26 incident is investigated. District officials said Kiser was driving seven members of Spartanburg’s girls’ cross-country team to an event when she was pulled over by a state Highway Patrol trooper in North Charleston.

The trooper reported that he stopped the school district’s SUV after a Goose Creek police officer spotted it “swerving” on Interstate 26. The trooper said Kiser smelled of alcohol, but denied drinking. She failed a field sobriety test and refused to take a breathalyzer test, according to the incident report.

She was charged with driving under the influence and with child endangerment.

The athletes were taken to a Charleston station until parents could make the three-hour drive from Spartanburg to pick them up. The Spartanburg Herald-Journal reports that head coach Jack Todd met with parents and the runners that night and they decided to continue with the meet on Saturday.

Lawsuit claims DSS placed teen with man who later raped her

DSSA lawsuit filed this month by a Georgetown County couple claims that caseworkers at the South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) negligently placed a female teen in the custody of a middle-aged male neighbor – who proceeded to repeatedly rape her over several months.

The suit filed by Myrtle Beach attorney Bill Luse claims case workers placed the 13-year-old (the complaint refers to her as “Jane Doe”) in the care of 42-year-old neighbor Rhett Tison in June 2011. Tison was arrested 15 month later on several charges, including criminal sexual conduct with a minor and committing a lewd act on a minor. While the warrants don’t identify the victim, Luse said it was “Jane Doe.”

The lawsuit’s filing was first reported by the Associated Press on Saturday.

Luse said DSS caseworkers did not follow agency’s own procedures after an abuse allegation was initially filed against the teen’s parents. The details of that original allegation are not mentioned in the lawsuit. The attorney did not wish to comment on it.

DSS policies normally require that relatives be given priority in custody cases and the girl’s mother wanted her to stay with an uncle in Michigan, according to the complaint.

Tison also was not certified as a foster parent in South Carolina, the attorney said. He did not have any previous criminal history when DSS placed the teen at his home, but Luse called the agency’s decision inappropriate nevertheless. [Read more...]

Harrell released on $18,000 bond

House Speaker Bobby Harrell (File)

House Speaker Bobby Harrell (File)

A state circuit judge has set an $18,000 personal recognizance bond for suspended House Speaker Bobby Harrell.

Harrell appeared in a Richland County courtroom for the Monday hearing. He told reporters afterwards. “I don’t have anything I want to say at this time.”

In addition to the bond, Harrell will not be allowed to travel outside of South Carolina. However, Judge John Hayes did allow an exception for the Speaker to travel to the University of South Carolina’s football game in Kentucky on Saturday.

Harrell was suspended as House Speaker earlier this month after a Richland County grand jury indicted him on nine counts related to misusing campaign funds and hiding it from state ethics officials.

State prosecutors claim Harrell repeatedly used campaign funds towards his plane and for paying a secretary at his insurance agency. The indictments also claim Harrell filed false documentation with the state to hide those purchases.

The Speaker waived his arraignment, meaning he did not enter a formal plea to each charge. However, he has repeatedly insisted in the past they he did knowingly violate the law and did not benefit personally from the funds.