No Challengers Allowed

Rino Hunt

The sound of cronyism and the good ole boy system was heard from Charleston to Pickens Counties Wednesday with the decision of the South Carolina Supreme Court.  As described by The State newspaper, “Up to 100 candidates ordered off June Ballots.  Decision sweeps away many challengers, but largely spares incumbents in June races”.

What Happened?

Within the last two years, the State Ethics Commission made some changes to the filing process.  While change itself is not a bad thing, the new requirements are confusing and misleading.  All challengers must file their Statement of Economic Interest online as well as print a copy which needed to be submitted to the County Political Party at the time of their Party filing.  In years past, candidates could download or obtain a copy of the form.  Once completed, they would submit it to the Ethics Commission.  There was no electronic filing at the time.  To further complicate the matter, incumbent candidates can rely on their previously filed Statement on file with the Commission and were provided a longer timeframe to file an updated form.

Statements of Economic Interest (SEI) are simply disclosures of income and other assets.

In many cases, challengers attempted to comply with the new law by providing a receipt of their SEI along with their filing forms at the Party Headquarters.  Others filed their SEI after the Party filing deadline passed.  One example of the difference between an incumbent and challenger is in the Pickens County Senate race.  Rex Rice, the challenger filed his candidacy paperwork with the County Party on March 16th and was told by the County GOP that he needed to file his SEI online which he did on April 9th.  Incumbent Senator Larry Martin filed his SEI on April 10th.  Under the ruling of the SC Supreme Court Rex Rice must be removed from the ballot, but Senator Martin will remain.

How did this happen?

How this happened is more complicated than what happened.  South Carolina is a State that invests a large majority of its authority in one branch of government; the Legislature.  The Legislature not only retains their authority to write the law, they also retain the authority to implement or execute the law in many cases.  This becomes apparent when you look at the recent battle for real government reform in South Carolina.  However, it gets worse; much worse.  The Legislature also appoints the Judges.  That’s right, they create law, in many cases execute the law and they appoint Judges that review and rule on the law.

For anyone that has read the many newsletters sent out over the last several months concerning the Department of Administration and reform, you should now understand the ramifications of a government with an imbalance of power.  This is why we shouted from the rooftop what they are calling historic reform is anything but historic or reform.  Separation of power is the only thing that preserves our Representative Republic from becoming a pure Democracy or worse.

Who is to blame?

There is plenty of blame to go around.  First and foremost is the Legislature itself is to blame.  Once again, they chose to create law that obviously benefitted themselves just like they did when they created their own special retirement system whereby they not only collect retirement benefits while still working, but retirement benefits that only apply to them and to no other State or Local government employee.  So what we have is a Legislature that serves and protects itself first.

There is blame to place on the SC Supreme Court.  In my opinion, they did not view this case with a clear understanding of equal protection under the law.  If a law is written in a manner that does not apply to all people equally the law should be overturned.  This case seems to shout inequality between incumbents and challengers.

The South Carolina GOP certainly has a responsibility to not only understand the law but to make sure that all candidates comply with the law.  The SCGOP has attorneys to provide legal advice to the Party.  The Party should have made sure that County Parties understood and complied with the law.  In many cases challengers were given incorrect instructions from the County Party on meeting the requirements.

Finally, the candidates have responsibility to make sure they comply with the law.  The only wiggle room that a candidate has in this situation is the fact that this is the first election cycle since the new law has been implemented.  A reasonable person would expect everyone seeking election would have to comply with the same law.  They may also have had expectations that the Party would provide appropriate advice on what they needed to do in order to be on the ballot.

Who loses?

All South Carolinians lose in this fiasco.  In many cases the voters will not have a choice in who represents them in the South Carolina Senate or House.  South Carolinians lost the opportunity for real reform in our State’s government because they lost the opportunity to elect real reformers.  It appears that we are stuck with the same ole good ole boys that created this mess in the first place.

Challengers lost.  Challengers lost not only the money they invested into their campaigns, in some case they had to give up their job in order to run for office.  The supporters of challengers lost not only the money they had donated to the challenger, but the hope for a more conservative State government.

Among those that lost the most are the activist that sacrificed their time and money.  Many conservative activists in South Carolina have invested years of dedication in making citizens aware of the many issues with our State’s Legislature and convincing them to become involved in the process.  Many of the citizens actually became candidates for the first time.

South Carolina lost!  South Carolina lost the opportunity to reach beyond last place in education.  We lost the opportunity to move back from the front of the line in domestic violence.  We lost the opportunity to reduce our dependency on federal funding which is a result of unbridled government growth and spending.  We lost our opportunity for real government reform and restoring the balance of power in Columbia.  We lost our opportunity for real taxes reform and ending the choosing of winners and losers with government controlled economic development.

Yes, it appears these things may be lost.  Lost not because the people of South Carolina were not willing to work hard for improvement and reform, but lost because we cannot depend on the same politicians that created the problem to fix it.

Everyone except the education apparatus and the Legislature understands the reason South Carolina remains dead last in education is because of the bureaucracy that mandates a one-size fits-all mentality.  However, South Carolina’s Legislature has the same answer year after year; more money!  Everyone except our Legislature understands having the lowest taxes and least government regulation in the nation would bring thousands of companies and jobs to South Carolina.  Legislators also understand that if they were to give up that power, they also give up their influence with Big Donors to their campaigns and to the SCGOP as well.  Just remember, the feathers they used to line their nest came from your bed.

The larger question is; what are you going to do about it?

I did not start this fight, but it is one that I plan to win.  It is a fight that must be won if our children will have a future as free men and women devoid of punitive and confiscatory taxes and unwarranted regulations.  It has become a fight that will require no allegiances other than to freedom itself.  It must become personal, very personal!  The battle lines must now be redrawn and Party politics must be forgotten.  We must develop a new plan to replace those who have created the chaos.

Are you up for the fight?

Harry Kibler
Founder – RINO Hunt

About Harry Kibler

Harry Kibler is the founder of RINO Hunt, an organization that holds elected Republicans accountable to the party platform. Through RINO Hunt, Harry started Constitution training classes and inspired other organizations throughout South Carolina to do the same. In 1996 Harry’s father passed away as a result of cancer. After losing his father, Harry realized he knew very little about his family heritage and started researching his family tree. The loss of his father and the newly-found knowledge of the sacrifices and service to our nation made by his ancestors created a passion to preserve our freedom. Harry began to study the U.S. Constitution and quickly recognized several areas of concern. He has dedicated his life to the preservation of the document that many men and women have died to protect. In 2010, Harry became a candidate for Greenville County Council and was recently elected First Vice Chairman of the Greenville County Republican Party.

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