SC GOP gouges taxpayers for its in-house business

info@islandpacket.comDecember 16, 2011 

Shame on the state Republican Party for repeatedly saying it would help cover expenses for its presidential preference primary, only to renege on that pledge.

It's ironic the party that says it wants government to butt out of private affairs now demands the nanny state pay for its in-house chore of selecting a presidential candidate.

Tax dollars should not be used to pay for political party functions, whether it's for Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians or whatever. That includes tax dollars allocated at both the state and county levels.

Elections boards from four counties -- including Beaufort County -- filed suit earlier this year to get answers to valid questions about political party primaries. The counties contended there was no legal mandate that they conduct the Jan. 21 Republican primary. The S.C. Supreme Court ruled 3-2 against the counties, saying that it is indeed a state and county function to run primary elections.

That means the state will not revert to the days of 2004 and earlier, when political parties ran their own primaries independently of the state. Frankly, the public should feel better about professionals running primaries, just as they do for all other elections.

However, the court did not rule on who should pay for the primary elections, saying that is a political question rather than a judicial one.

The state Republican Party had said it would cover all "legitimate" primary election-related costs, whatever that means. Now that the party has put a number on the table, it's a sham and an insult. The state GOP says it will contribute $180,000 of the $1.5 million it is expected to cost to conduct its presidential primary.

State lawmakers have approved $850,000 for the primary. And the S.C. Elections Commission is trying to come up with $500,000 more.

Meanwhile, Beaufort County elections leaders, still smarting from an unfavorable court ruling, say all 60 polls will be open Jan. 21 because that's what voters deserve.

The Republican Party should do the honorable thing and live up to its pledge to pay for its primary. Instead, it has thumbed its nose at elections professionals, and stuck it to the taxpayers.

Lawmakers should produce a legislative remedy. They wrote law mandating state and county elections boards run primary elections for political parties. Now they must write law mandating that those parties pay for it.

Unfortunately, it will take the heavy hand of the law to keep political parties from gouging taxpayers.

The Island Packet is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service