"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Can Howard Rich Buy South Carolina?

Before buying influence by tychoons took on the fancy name of social entrepreneurship, New York real estate magnate, Howard Rich, was dishing out cash on both sides of the aisle to advance conservative Norquistian goals of killing off public institutions. His connections to the vast conservative network, detailed in this piece by the Herald-Journal in late September, are aimed at instituting rule by those who rule the markets, and he and colleagues like Internet junk man, Patrick Byrne, have stoked the fires for vouchers and charters around the country for a long time.

In recent times, one of Rich's prime target has been South Carolina, where he has showered the state with thousand dollar checks intended to garner support for the school voucher initiative that he is pushing there. On September 30, Politico reported that a very private Rich, angered by public exposure of his manipulations, had one of his outfits send out a letter to liberals both in and out of South Carolina. Here is a clip:

The letter from Americans for Limited Government says:

As a donor to one or more of these organizations and efforts, you have been able to engage in these activities without notice, operating in relative obscurity. I am writing to inform you that this will no longerbe the case.

Your name has been put in our database. We are monitoring all reports of a wide variety of leftist organizations. As your name appears in subsequent reports, it is our intent to publicize your involvement in your local community. Should any of these organizations be found to be engaged in illegal or questionable activity, it is our intent to publicize your involvement with those activities. You should know that instances of coordinated voter fraud are surfacing all across America and investigations into possible criminal coordination are underway.

Now Columbia's Free Times reports that a group of South Carolinians are dedicated to fighting back and to outing Rich's work across the state:
. . . . In response, the New Democrats say they intend to fight Rich and his “radical social agenda” with the home-court advantage.

In early October the Charleston-based organization launched a “fight Howard Rich initiative” and fired up a web site, fighthowardrich.org, to track which State House candidates have taken money from Rich and his wealthy allies across the country.

The name and shame tour was just one way for the group to educate voters before Election Day about which candidates had taken money from Rich, Knighton says.

And although the Nov. 4 elections are over, the group’s president, Phil Noble, says they aren’t done taking it to Rich. “The New Democrats were here before Howard Rich got here and will be here after he leaves,” Noble says.

The New Dems say they will track members of the General Assembly who benefited from Rich’s largesse and won on Nov. 4 to see how they vote on certain bills.

Signs have emerged that the group’s campaign against Rich might be yielding results.

On Oct. 20, S.C. House District 45 candidate Deborah Long, a Republican, returned 12 checks for $1,000 apiece that were donated to her campaign and listed out-of-state addresses tied to Rich, according to the Rock Hill Herald. Long said she sent letters with the returned checks saying she was sending them back because South Carolina is becoming more sensitive to out-of-state contributions.

And on Oct. 31, House District 49 Democratic candidate John King said he too would return a $1,000 check donated to his campaign from one of Rich’s associates. In an email, King called school vouchers and private-school tax credits “irresponsible and indefensible” and said he has always supported public education.

Noble says the goal of the fight against Rich is make South Carolinians aware of Rich and the affect his money has on members of the Legislature. “Whenever [Rich] rears his head we’ll be there to respond,” Noble says. . . . .

1 comment:

  1. That's a great story. I'm glad to hear that they met the threat head on when he tried to intimidate them.