Columbia, SC – Last week, Representative Stephen Goldfinch lied about being charged with illegally selling fetal stem cells. This week, Goldfinch lied again saying that Federal prosecutors were not pursing the case.
With these charges pending against Representative Goldfinch, the South Carolina Democratic Party called on Speaker Jay Lucas to immediately suspend Goldfinch pursuant to South Carolina law requiring suspension for crimes of moral turpitude.
“Representative Goldfinch has been charged with illegally selling fetal stem cells, and then he lied about it twice. South Carolinians deserve honesty and integrity in their elected officials,” said Conor Hurley, South Carolina Democratic Party Executive Director. “The charges against Representative Goldfinch are clearly violations of the moral standards of our State. Speaker Lucas should uphold the laws and suspend Representative Goldfinch until the courts can rule on these heinous charges. It’s time for Speaker Lucas to decide whether illegally selling fetal stem cells to a man who preyed on the hopes of terminally ill ALS patients is a crime contrary to the accepted rule of right and duty.”
According to charges filed against Goldfinch in Federal Court, Goldfinch “routinely sold stem cells to Francisco Morales… [who] performed unapproved procedures involving stem cells” (United States vs. Stephen Goldfinch, November 26, 2013).
South Carolina Statute requires that “A member of the General Assembly who is indicted in a state court or a federal court for a crime that is a felony, a crime that involves moral turpitude, a crime that has a sentence of two or more years, or a crime that violates election laws must be suspended immediately without pay by the presiding officer of the House or Senate, as appropriate” (South Carolina Code of Laws, SECTION 8-13-550).
The Supreme Court of South Carolina has defined moral turpitude as “…an act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes to his fellow man, or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man…” (State v. Horton, 271 S.C. 413, 414, 248 S.E.2d 263, 263 (1978)).
If convicted of these charges, South Carolina law requires Representative Goldfinch’s office be declared vacant.
South Carolina Statute Requires Suspension for Crimes of Moral Turpitude. “A member of the General Assembly who is indicted in a state court or a federal court for a crime that is a felony, a crime that involves moral turpitude, a crime that has a sentence of two or more years, or a crime that violates election laws must be suspended immediately without pay by the presiding officer of the House or Senate, as appropriate. The suspension remains in effect until the public official is acquitted, convicted, pleads guilty, or pleads nolo contendere. In the case of a conviction, the office must be declared vacant. In the event of an acquittal or dismissal of charges against the public official, he is entitled to reinstatement and back pay.” (South Carolina Code of Laws, SECTION 8-13-550).
South Carolina Supreme Court Opinion on Crimes of Moral Turpitude. “Moral turpitude” has been defined as: “… an act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes to his fellow man, or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man …” (State v. Horton, 271 S.C. 413, 414, 248 S.E.2d 263, 263 (1978)).
The South Carolina Democratic Party released this statement from Chairman Jaime Harrison today following the indictment of Speaker Bobby Harrell:
“The Grand Jury and prosecutor have made the decision to move forward with charges against Speaker Bobby Harrell, and while the cases are pending the Speaker should resign from his role as Speaker of the House of Representatives and abide by state law as it relates to his suspension from the House of Representatives.
“This culture of corruption in South Carolina has to stop. Leaders on both sides of the aisle must be held accountable for ethical wrongdoing. Elected officials who break the law hurt the reputation of our great state and feed into the general mistrust of the state government. We can begin to rebuild the people’s faith in their government, but for that it takes honest leadership.”
SCDP Chairman Jaime Harrison released this statement today in response to Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom’s offensive and ignorant comments about South Carolina State University:
“The disgusting and ignorant comments by Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom regarding South Carolina State University today are offensive to the school, her students and alumni.
“As Comptroller General and a member of the SC Budget and Control Board, one would hope Mr. Eckstrom could appreciate the significant economic impact the University has on the community in my hometown of Orangeburg. As a leader in South Carolina, one would also expect he would show some understanding of the history this state has with segregation. Perhaps Mr. Eckstrom is also unaware that SC State University has produced 14 military generals and is the celebrated and much beloved alma mater of successful leaders like former House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn and former SC Supreme Court Chief Justice, Ernest Finney.
“Whether Mr. Eckstrom’s remarks were made from ignorance or whether from malice makes no difference — they do not meet the standard South Carolinians deserve from elected officials.
“I call on Mr. Eckstrom to apologize for his statements. I urge my counterpart, the Chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, to condemn such inappropriate and insensitive comments as well. And I challenge Mr. Eckstrom to tour the South Carolina State University Campus to see the positive things that are happening, allow him to meet with the bright and loyal Bulldog Nation, and give him a chance to apologize for his remarks in person.”
Every Tax Day, you hear a lot of rhetoric from Republicans about looking out for the people and doing right by business. So today, remember the real record in South Carolina: small businesses bear the burden while Nikki Haley breaks the rules to take care of herself. Take a look at Nikki Haley’s double standard on taxes:
FOR SMALL BUSINESS: PAY HIGHEST TAXES IN THE COUNTRY
South Carolina’s small businesses are paying the highest industrial property tax rates in the country, and the 7th highest commercial property tax rates in the nation. Governor Haley supported Act 388 and has refused to back efforts to bring these rates down.
“Tax policy is critical to existing business and potential companies deciding to locate or expand in South Carolina. Decisions are based largely on competitiveness, predictability and sustainability. South Carolina manufacturers currently pay the highest industrial property taxes in the country, while all other business properties pay the 7th highest property taxes.” [SC Chamber of Commerce, accessed 4/15/14]
FOR NIKKI HALEY: HIDE INCOME, FILE LATE, THEN BAIL YOURSELF OUT
Tax Returns Showed Haley Did Not Report Income While a State Legislator. “three years of tax records she allowed media to review showed she had been paid $42,500 for consulting work for engineering firm Wilbur Smith and Associates, income she had not previously disclosed. Company officials said they hired Haley to refer development prospects because of her ties to the Lexington business community. [The State, 7/21/10]
Wilbur Smith Paid Haley $5,500 More than Reported. “Haley was let go in 2008 because the souring economy had dried up potential work, not over her performance, Ferrell said. She received $48,000 from the firm — $5,500 more than previously reported, according to tax returns that Haley showed reporters during her 2010 campaign for governor.” [The State, 6/29/12]
Haley and Family Business Repeatedly Filed Late Taxes, Paid Thousands in Fines. The Associated Press reported on Haley’s tax history and that of family clothing store at which she “frequently cited” her experience as an accountant: “Records show the store’s taxes were at least 19 months past due each time the state filed a lien. Two of the tax liens were for failing to pay corporate income taxes and one was for not turning over taxes withheld from employee checks. The company paid nearly $4,000 to remove the liens… a review of Haley’s personal income taxes since 2004 showed she has repeatedly paid fines for failing to pay them on time, including twice filing more than 14 months late. Tax experts say a state tax lien is filed only after long negotiations between the government and the business. They also say the withholding penalty is more serious, since it involves the company taking money from employees but not sending it to the government.” [Associated Press, 9/9/10]
The State Editorial: “We Should Not Lower Our Standards.” The State wrote in 2010, ‘We do get concerned about patterns of behavior, and we do think that politicians ought to show some contrition when they fail to meet the basic obligations that the law requires of all citizens. Ms. Haley has developed a pattern, and in-stead of showing any contrition, she has tried to suggest that her failure to pay or even file her taxes on time somehow shows solidarity with an overtaxed public. It does no such thing. The overwhelming majority of South Carolinians not only file their taxes on time but pay them on time, as well. We should not lower our standards to knowingly elect some-one who has repeatedly failed to do that unless we make it clear that we are making a one-time exception, that we do not condone such irresponsibility — and unless the candidate makes it clear that she understands and respects this. [The State editorial, 9/17/10]
Column: Haley Gave Herself “Bailout” in Paying Taxes Late. “The IRS makes clear, the extension applies only to the return…Taxes are always due by April 15 — at the latest. The Haleys have not paid their taxes by April 15 in any of the past five years… in my book, anytime you have to pay the government a penalty, you’ve done something wrong, and the Haleys have paid the IRS $4,452 in penalties in the past five years…I admire Ms. Haley’s discipline in reining in the family budget, but the fact is that part of her strategy was to avoid paying her bills on time, by essentially giving herself a loan from those of us who paid our taxes on time. A bailout if you will, albeit temporary, for the candidate who deplores federal bailouts. And since she failed to pay her taxes on time five years in a row, it raises questions about her stewardship of money.” [The State, Scoppe column, 8/21/10]
Nikki Haley’s hypocrisy knows no bounds, and she has shown time and again that she believes she is accountable to no one. It’s time for new leadership.
Today, Nikki Haley officially filed papers to run for reelection, clearly hoping South Carolinians forget the past three years. But South Carolinians feel the effects every day, because Nikki Haley’s record is consistent: Failed leadership and incompetence followed by cover-ups and no accountability.
“Whether it’s with the cover up of the hacking of 3.5 million people’s Social Security numbers, children dying while DSS worries more about meeting goals than child safety, or DHEC waiting two months to tell parents that their kids were being exposed to TB in a public school, Nikki Haley has repeatedly proven incompetent at being governor,” said Kristin Sosanie, SCDP Communications Director. “What’s worse – every time something goes wrong, there’s no accountability from Haley, just cover-ups and misdirection. It’s time for honest leadership and real accountability for the people of South Carolina, and that means no second term for Nikki Haley.”
Nikki Haley rode into office on a wave of promises, and has not delivered results. Instead, hardworking families and businesses are struggling while Nikki Haley fudges the numbers to paint a rosy picture to tell them “It’s a great day in South Carolina.” But Haley’s rhetoric is far from reality:
FAILED LEADERSHIP & INCOMPETENCE
Announced Jobs Fail to Materialize. “South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley touts that more than 40,000 jobs have been announced during her tenure, but no one can say how many of those planned jobs have become reality. Many employers won’t fill those jobs for years. Some plans will simply fall through – and already have in at least three cases… A quarter of the announcements commit to bring 25 or fewer jobs. An additional 18 projects show no jobs at all – six of which are receiving upfront infrastructure grants from the state.” [AP, 1/5/14]
Dramatic declines in labor market for young workers. “Another nagging concern continues to be the labor market for young people. That market has declined more dramatically than jobless rates show, the Brookings Institution reported last week. Brookings researchers reported the Greenville-Mauldin-Easley metropolitan area was among the 10 metro areas with the lowest employment rates of young adults ages 20-24 among the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas. The trend is striking and raises fears that many will miss out on higher earnings and economic opportunities, experts and economists said.” [Greenville News, 3/18/14]
Jobless rates increasing around the state. “Jobless rates went up in all but three of South Carolina’s 46 counties in January. Marion County had the state’s highest unemployment, at 13.6 percent. The jobless rate was lowest in Lexington County, at 5.1 percent.” [Greenville News, 3/18/14]
Nikki Haley’s veto pen has hit education hardest. “Of the nearly 200 budget vetoes Gov. Nikki Haley has issued during her three years as governor, no government service has been struck more than public education. A review of the governor’s budget vetoes shows the first-term Republican has vetoed $110 million worth of public education programs and services since 2011, vetoes that account for more than a quarter of the $419 million she has vetoed in state spending since 2011.” [The State, 6/27/13]
COVER-UPS & NO ACCOUNTABILITY
Haley’s Dept. of Social Services fails to protect children in order to meet quotas. “Sens. Katrina Shealy and Joel Lourie are part of a subcommittee that heard Wednesday about an alarming number of child deaths where the Department of Social Service was already involved. The lawmakers also heard about a system of goals that encourages social workers to keep children out of or remove them from foster care even if it isn’t the best thing to do…. The goals deeply bothered both Lourie and Shealy. ‘They are talking about wildly important goals. Let’s get the numbers down?’ Shealy said. ‘These aren’t numbers. These are people.’” [AP, 1/15/14]
Haley’s administration kept parents in the dark for two months while their children were exposed to TB at their public school. Top DHEC staffer knew about TB problem in April. “Parents in the town are incensed that they weren’t told about the disease threat until May 28 and that their children weren’t tested for the disease until May 31. DHEC staffers learned that a school janitor had tuberculosis March 8. He is believed to have spread the disease. Templeton freely acknowledged this week that her agency responded poorly to the tuberculosis threat, telling The State newspaper that ‘DHEC screwed this up.’” [The State, 7/19/13]
Governor Haley waited more than 2 weeks to inform 6.4 million consumers and businesses in South Carolina that their tax information had been hacked under her watch. A computer chief at the S.C. Department of Revenue did not heed warnings about cyber-security shortcomings at that state agency before hackers stole personal financial data belonging to 6.4 million consumers and business, a former agency employee told lawmakers Thursday. [The State, 1/4/13]
Senators from both sides of the aisle joined in the fight to end the incompetence and demand accountability at the Dept of Social Services. Meanwhile, Governor Nikki Haley continues to stand behind her appointed department head, citing the same decreases in numbers that witnesses have repeatedly testified came at the cost of children’s lives and safety.
This is the definition of circular reasoning, and shows a dangerous lack of accountability:
SHOT: Investigation shows Dept. of Social Services has repeatedly failed to act in best interests of children in order to meet quotas & lower their numbers.
“Sens. Katrina Shealy and Joel Lourie are part of a subcommittee that heard Wednesday about an alarming number of child deaths where the Department of Social Service was already involved. The lawmakers also heard about a system of goals that encourages social workers to keep children out of or remove them from foster care even if it isn’t the best thing to do…. The goals deeply bothered both Lourie and Shealy. ‘They are talking about wildly important goals. Let’s get the numbers down?’ Shealy said. ‘These aren’t numbers. These are people.’” [AP, 1/15/14]
“The panel heard from Richland and Charleston county coroners. Both cited cases where investigations into child deaths revealed troublesome patterns of abuse and questions about how DSS handled the cases, they said….Former DSS deputy director Linda Martin, who was fired last year after being with the agency for more than 30 years, testified that the agency was more focused on numbers than the care of children in the state. A former Richland County DSS director said he resigned early for similar reasons.” [The State, 3/19/14]
CHASER: Nikki Haley uses those same numbers to defend her failed agency head.
“Haley is standing behind Koller’s leadership. Her spokesman cited numbers showing a decrease in deaths, increase in adoptions and more people moving from welfare to work since Koller took the agency’s helm in 2011.” [AP, 3/19/14]
“’All the numbers that I worked with her on have improved. Let’s be clear, one child death is one death too many,’ Haley said. ‘Our job is to make sure we constantly improve those numbers. … Every member of that agency is committed to that under the leadership of Lillian Koller.’” [Columbia Free Times, 3/19/14]