Jake Knotts is playing the arrogance game. Knotts just can't leave well enough alone. He has to gloat. Seizing upon a technical error made by his opponent, Katrina Shealy, wherein she filled out an electronic form but did not also turn in a paper form (not provided) for the "Statement of Economic Interests", Knotts was recently quoted in the Lexington Chronicle saying: "If you don’t understand how the system works, you can never work the system for the benefit of your constituents."
Spoken like a true bully and thug. No, Jake. People don't want a gangster politician who knows how to "work the system." They know the system is corrupt. The system as crafted by you and your fellow crooks in the general assembly in this case insures that you get two extra weeks to fill out a form and are only fined $100.00 if you don't make it in time. Challengers to current officeholders have to meet a deadline two weeks earlier and if they don't do it in time, they're off the ballot! The SC Constitution has something that's called "equal protection under the law." You and your fellow crooks violated it big time with the "Statement of Economic Interests" law.
Jake Knotts has been internationally documented as a good ol' boy racist. He's Lexington County's version of "Boss Hogg" from The Dukes of Hazzard. He's not interested in what's best for his constituents--in this case, an alternative to his corrupt, money-grubbing self--he's only interested in whatever benefits his personal wealth and power. That's the way his white-trash brain works. You see, though he's not the sharpest knife in the drawer, he is clever--but he's clever like a bulldog. He learns just enough to get what he needs to fill his belly and that's it. There are no controls, no safety devices on Jake Knotts. There's not even a collar and a chain which he badly needs. He reveals his true nature all the time.
The law states that this has to be done by a certain deadline or the individual candidate must be disqualified. It looks as though a couple of Jake Knotts' Democrat buddies in Lexington County have filed suit to make sure Katrina Shealy is disqualified as a result of this law. The law conveniently exempts incumbents like Jake Knotts. According to the summary of yesterday's hearing on the matter, 'One of the justices jokingly suggested this law should have been coined "the incumbent candidates private relief bill.”'
Although the lawsuit started here in Lexington County, there are a lot of other folks (hundreds according to several sources) who have, in good faith and not meaning to skirt the law, been caught up in the net since the lawsuit's going statewide and being heard by the SC Supreme Court (the first hearing was yesterday, May 1, 2012). That suits the Democrats despite Dick Harpootlian's half-hearted stand against the law. They want to keep their people in power and disenfranchise as many Republican challengers as possible.
Then there are "former" Democrats and current RINO's like Jake Knotts. Knotts is desperate and pulling every trick in the book--including moving his district into Democrat Nikki Setzler's so that it no longer includes areas where Katrina won in 2008. Knotts couldn't care less about his fellow Republicans. Many of them have gone to some trouble to "officially" distance themselves from him over the past couple of years since his internationally infamous "raghead" remark regarding President Obama and then candidate for governor, Nikki Haley.
We all know that not all laws are created equally. If the law is truly meant to serve the people's interest, then why not do as they have already done and document who is lacking what forms, paper and online, and send or publish notice of these facts and give them a few days to get the proper documents together and submitted?
Admittedly, the SEI law itself does a potentially good service for the voters by putting the candidates on record regarding their sources of income and points out some obvious sources of conflicts of interests. Unfortunately, you can have all that on record and it's very unlikely that anyone in the general assembly will ever do anything about it since they "police" (i.e. cover up for) themselves and they've never done anything much about ethics violations in the past. Few legislators, if any, have actually recused themselves on crucial votes when there is a clear conflict of interests. Too many have been hired by corporations as lobbyists which is their "job" outside of being in the general assembly. Conflicts of interests abound in the statehouse and the crooks there are naturally unwilling to stop the gravy train they've tapped into.
Jake Knotts himself was barely slapped on the wrist by his fellow crooks in the SC Senate for purposefully and fraudulently falsifying official documents in order to take money that was illegal for him to accept. The only real punishment he received was to be censured by the Lexington County GOP. In response to that censure he commandeered the microphone at a later county GOP event and for an inordinate amount of time whined about he was the only one in the SC Senate "stoopid enough" to reveal his crimes--as if that would excuse him in our eyes. He was mocked all around afterwards. He has, more than anything, become a sick joke in Lexington County GOP circles.
What we have in this case is an essentially good law but it is a law that is not really set up to provide the information it collects to the voters. Instead it is set up to provide yet another pitfall for potential challengers to sitting politicians. The more hoops someone has to jump through, the more likely they'll trip up and be unable to run.
The law would truly be serving the interests of the people of this state if the outcome of violating it were reasonable. If, for example, someone would be found to be lacking in their SEI documentation and were then notified and given a few days to correct the oversight, the public would be served in that we'd have more challengers qualified to take on corrupt incumbents like Jake Knotts. Instead, the remedy to the law, cleverly written and amended, mind you, by Jake Knotts and others in the general assembly, is to completely disqualify potential candidates as punishment for not providing a single bit of information. Such paper work as involved in filing is drudgery enough. Extensions are routinely filed on taxes and other such forms so why not this as well? It'd be like one of us going to federal prison for tax evasion due to forgetting to include a certain form with our tax package. The punishment is out of proportion to the requirement of the law.
This does a disservice to the people of this state and further enhances the power of those already in office. It's possible that they'll have to continue to come up with new laws once the political parties and challengers learn to cope with this one but have no doubt that the general assembly will continue to place such legislative landmines out there if it means further insulating themselves from the will of the voters.
This law needs to be struck down in its current form and it should be modified at some point to put into place a more reasonable result when there is a lack of compliance--notice or small fine--in order to protect the interests of the voters of this state first rather than increase the power of corrupt officials like Jake Knotts. If the SC Supreme Court rules in favor of the people of this state, we'll have more options at the ballot box. Then again, Justice Toal and others seem to be in the pockets of SC Senators like Jake Knotts since they're the ones who select judges--and that's another situation that needs to be rectified with an amendment to the SC Constitution if the reeking cesspool of corruption in the general assembly is to ever be thoroughly flushed.
Political games being played at the expense of the voters' choice are not the stuff of good self-governance. The interests of citizens are not served if competition to elected office is eliminated. Lack of choice is NEVER a good thing when there are politicians accumulating power and repeatedly abusing their offices with no other check on them besides getting rid of them at the ballot box.
SECTION 8-13-1356. Filing of statement of economic interests by candidates for public office.
(A) This section does not apply to a public official who has a current disclosure statement on file with the appropriate supervisory office pursuant to Sections 8-13-1110 or 8-13-1140.
(B) A candidate must file a statement of economic interests for the preceding calendar year at the same time and with the same official with whom the candidate files a declaration of candidacy or petition for nomination.
(C) The official with whom the candidate files a declaration of candidacy or petition for nomination, no later than five business days after candidacy books close, must file a copy of the statement with the appropriate supervisory office.
(D) An individual who becomes a candidate other than by filing must, no later than fifteen business days after becoming a candidate, file a statement of economic interests for the preceding calendar year with the appropriate supervisory office.
(E) An officer authorized to receive declarations of candidacy and petitions for nominations under the provisions of Chapter 11 of Title 7 may not accept a declaration of candidacy or petition for nomination unless the declaration or petition is accompanied by a statement of economic interests. If the candidate's name inadvertently appears on the ballot, the officer authorized to receive declarations of candidacy or petitions for nomination must not certify the candidate subsequent to the election.
(F) If the candidate files for office before January first of the year in which the election is held, he must file a supplementary statement covering the preceding calendar year no later than April first of the year in which the election is held.
(G) A candidate who is not a public official otherwise filing a statement has the same disclosure requirements as a public official with the exception of reporting gifts.
(H) The State Ethics Commission must furnish to each clerk of court in the State forms on which the statement of economic interests shall be filed.
From the SC Constitution:
DECLARATION OF RIGHTS . . .
SECTION 3. Privileges and immunities; due process; equal protection of laws.
The privileges and immunities of citizens of this State and of the United States under this Constitution shall not be abridged, nor shall any person be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws. (1970 (56) 2684; 1971 (57) 315.)