The South Carolina House passed the key vote of an election reform measure Wednesday. It attempts to make it tougher on candidate’s who skirt an election law that requires the reporting of campaign contributions. There is a period of roughly 20 days that many people are not aware of but politicians know well as the “blackout period.” It’s the time between the filing of the last required election report a few weeks before an election, and the election itself. Contributions made during that period won’t show up until the report filed after the election.
The legislation requires a campaign report to be updated during the “blackout period” every 48 hours so that all contributions will be more apparent.
But House members defeated an amendment from Kershaw County Democrat Laurie Funderburk directed at mostly large campaign contributors. It stipulated that the law limiting contributions to $1000 per contributor for General Assembly races would limit individuals who have controlling interest in more than one company, only allowing them to make contributions from one such company.
(Funderburk-Vyers on House floor Mp3 4:13)
Funderburk on House floor
One individual named in discussing Funderburk’s amendment was Howard Rich, of New York City, who she says contributed close to half a million dollars to South Carolina candidates in the 2008 election cycle, alone. Rich has commonly been associated with candidates who supported school voucher proposals. Funderburk says that Rich has used 30 business entities to circumvent South Carolina campaign laws.
Horry County Republican Thad Viers(VY-ers) challenged Funderburk, calling her attempted amendment a violation of free speech.
Williamsburg County Democrat Ken Kennedy took on Richland County Republican Nathan Ballentine, who opposed Funderburk’s amendment. Kennedy said $1000 here and $1000 there adds up. “My God, if a friend gives someone $5000 they own him,” said Kennedy.
“You’re saying that if someone gives you $5000 they own you,” asked Ballentine?
Kennedy joked back. “If I send someone a $4000 to $5000 check up here, you’re darn right they’re gonna answer to me.”
The original draft of the election reform bill the House passed was changed to only require contributions of $500 or more to be reported. But the House supported another of Funderburk’s amendments that restored the bill’s original intent.