Sneaky and duplicitous – with your money

No one seems to doubt that most politicians tell a lie or two when it suits their needs. However, it is rather surprising when an elected official is caught lying to his fellow lawmakers, as happened recently in the S.C. House of Representatives.

The Nerve detailed Rep. Brian White, R-Anderson, offering a budget proviso last month for a $10 million loan to the Heritage PGA golf tournament next year if a new sponsor isn’t found for the event, held in Hilton Head.

But the proviso doesn’t mention the Heritage tournament and when White’s colleagues on the House Ways and Means subcommittee tried to get specifics, he replied with vague answers, according to The Nerve:

Does somebody put up something to guarantee they’re gonna pay that money back?” asked Rep. Harry Ott, D-Calhoun. “Is this a gift?

Ott also asked White directly, “Can you give me an example of what they (Beaufort County) might do with the money? … Build a golf course?”

White didn’t give any direct answers.

Members of White’s own party also appeared confused about the proviso language. Said House Majority Leader Kenny Bingham, R-Lexington, “I really don’t understand. … Tell me about the Beaufort County portion of it.”

White responded with another vague answer: “This allows Beaufort County basically … to borrow this money to promote tourism in their area. They can do so, and they have to guarantee it back out of accommodation taxes.”

White deflected other questions about why the money was going only to Beaufort County, saying that other counties already received “destination-specific” tourist money, and that any funds to Beaufort County would have to be approved by the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism.

White said Beaufort County could repay any loan, noting, “They are a huge donor to the state; they pay a ton of accommodations taxes.”

But White never mentioned that the money was for the Heritage golf tournament.

Perhaps not surprisingly, White did not respond when The Nerve attempted to ask his why he was evasive with his colleagues.

The proviso eventually passed the House during a marathon session on the budget. 

So, while lawmakers continue to threaten to turn prisoners loose and cut funding for education because of a lack of money, they somehow think giving a professional golf tournament a $10 million loan is a sound idea. And it’s so sound, they can’t even be forthright with their fellow legislators. Ah, government we can all be proud of.

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