Progressive Network Launces Project
Aim is to clean up elections in South Carolina
When the South Carolina Progressive Network held press conferences in Charleston, Columbia and Greenville in October to announce a long-term campaign to get money out of politics in South Carolina, the coalition was well aware of the uphill climb ahead.
"We are not naive in assessing the magnitude of the task before us," said Network Cochair Rep. Joe Neal, "but it is a battle that must be waged."
The Progressive Network, a coalition of grassroots and advocacy groups from across the state, has been studying the issue over the past year. The data is so disturbing that the Network has put campaign finance reform at the top of its To Do list.
"It is past time to raise this issue in South Carolina," Neal said.
We all know that money drives politics, but did you know that the flow of campaign cash has increased nearly 40 percent since South Carolina's last general election? If not, don't feel bad. It is nobody's job to see that you do.
Following the money in South Carolina is easier said than done. There are three separate offices where campaign disclosure forms are filed. One each for the House and Senate and another, the State Ethics Commission, for everyone else. There is no requirement for electronic filing, and many of the reports are handwritten.
The Network plans to compile the contributions from various corporate sources to map how they affect voting patterns.
"This is work that should be done by the Ethics Commission," said Network Cochair Donna Dewitt. "Part of our legislative effort will address electronic filing and full disclosure of contributions."
The Network is working with legislators to introduce a bill next session requiring contributors of more than $100 to disclose their place of employment. There is no current provision to determine whether corporations are "bundling," giving contributions in employee's names.
The Network is looking for interested groups and individuals to help shape a strategy for campaign finance reform in South Carolina. "We can continue to put our politicians on the auction block," Dewitt said, "or we can figure out a way to get money out of politics."
For information, or to find out how to get involved, contact the Progressive Network by calling 800-849-1803 (statewide), 808-3384 in Columbia, by sending e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting the Network's Web site: www.scpronet.com/.