Today has quite the onslaught of political news, so we’re dispensing with the usual introductory format and jumping right into the headlines to bring you as many as possible:
So who’s lying? DNR board chair disputes ousted director’s recollection - In a tense round of questioning Wednesday morning before a Senate panel, DNR Board Chairwoman Caroline Rhodes flatly denied asking former agency director John Frampton to resign during a private meeting last year, Palmetto Public Record reported Wednesday. Her contradiction of Frampton’s characterization of the meeting means Rhodes essentially called the popular director a liar to his face, as Frampton was participating in the hearing via conference call.
Read more on the Senate’s DNR hearing from The State’s Sammy Fretwell.
Sen. Jake Knotts says 2012 will be his last election - After nearly 20 years in South Carolina’s State House, Sen. Jake Knotts says the 2012 election will be his last, Palmetto Public Record reported yesterday. The Lexington Republican made the announcement Wednesday evening on Pub Politics, Knotts’ first appearance on online talk show hosted since 2010 — when he made national headlines for calling President Obama and then-candidate Nikki Haley “ragheads.”
‘Pay-for-play’ scheme probed at state’s $25 billion retirement system - SLED has launched an investigation into allegations of a “pay-for-play” scheme involving South Carolina’s $25 billion retirement fund for state workers, according to The State’s Adam Beam. The investigation was started after at least two financial management firms said they were promised they could manage a piece of the retirement fund, earning lucrative fees, if they paid money to a friend of state Treasurer Curtis Loftis.
Another unanimous vote against DHEC - A measure suspending the authority of South Carolina’s environmental agency to make dredging decisions for the Savannah River received another unanimous vote in the Senate on Wednesday, putting it a step away from the governor’s desk, according to the Associated Press’ Seanna Adcox. The joint resolution is designed to help lawmakers’ efforts in undoing a water quality permit granted by DHEC, which allows Georgia to expand the Savannah port.
Amazon tab for tax break: $156,000-plus - Online retailer Amazon spent just over $156,000 — mostly for lobbyists — in winning a sales tax collection exemption from the Legislature last year over the opposition of other merchants, according to The State’s Tim Flach. Its six lobbyists were paid nearly $137,000 in a battle whose outcome will bring 2,000 jobs to the Midlands by the end of 2013, according to reports available Wednesday.
Campaign finance reports trickle in for 7th Congressional District race - Former Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer has the highest total of funds of the 14 candidates running for the 7th Congressional District seat, but a closer look shows Horry County Council Chairman Tom Rice has raised the most in actual campaign contributions, according to the Myrtle Beach Sun News’ Brad Dickerson. According to a report filed with the Federal Elections Commission, half of Bauer’s $300,000 campaign funds haul includes a $150,000 personal loan the Republican candidate took out.
Probe of SC Lt. Gov. enters 7th month - A confidential state grand jury probe into possible illegal campaign activities by Lt. Gov. Ken Ard is droning into its seventh month, and no one is saying anything about when or if the grand jury might act, according to The State’s John Monk. Ard is not commenting on the situation, and continues to be active in his $46,545-a-year job in which the main duty is to preside over the 46-member state Senate.