October 2, 2014

Sheheen calls for Confederate battle flag’s removal from Statehouse grounds

The battle flag hangs behind Democratic candidate for governor Vincent Sheheen during Wednesday's event

The battle flag hangs behind Democratic candidate for governor Vincent Sheheen during Wednesday’s event

Democratic candidate for governor State Sen. Vincent Sheheen said Wednesday that he will push to remove the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse grounds if he is elected and replace it with an American flag.

Sheheen spoke at a joint campaign event Wednesday just steps away from the flag that sits in front of the state Capitol building in Columbia.

“I want South Carolina to be celebrated not for the state that left America, but as the best state in America,” the senator from Kershaw County said. “It’s time we celebrated that heritage.” He showed a letter signed by eight mayors with Democratic Party ties (including Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin and Charleston Mayor Joe Riley) which stated the flag should be “reverently moved to a museum.”

After years of debate, state legislators agreed in 2000 to a compromise that moved the flag off the capitol dome and placed it next to the Confederate Soldiers’ Monument. Neither Sheheen nor incumbent Republican Gov. Nikki Haley had been elected to seats in the Statehouse at that point. A handful of groups like the NAACP and the NCAA still boycott the state, saying the flag needs to be off the grounds entirely.

[Read more...]

Winthrop Poll: Governor Haley, GOP senators enjoy double digit leads

Gov. Haley

Gov. Haley

Republican Governor Nikki Haley holds a 10-point lead over Democratic challenger State Sen. Vincent Sheheen in the November elections, according to the latest Winthrop Poll released Wednesday.

The poll of 1,082 likely South Carolina voters found Haley leads Sheheen by a 43.6-33.6 margin. Poll Director Scott Huffmon said there is a sizable number of likely voters, 12.4 percent, that are still undecided. He said that means Haley still has work to do in shoring up her support to win a second term.

“With little over a month yet to go, it’s definitely not time to cruise if you are ahead,” he told South Carolina Radio Network. “It’s time to shore up your support and try not to bleed out any more support.”

Huffmon noted that petition candidate Tom Ervin, an attorney and former judge, could have a slight effect on the race with 3.9 percent of the voters.

[Read more...]

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.

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...]