The SC House Ethics Committee has dismissed the complaint against Rep. Bill Chumley for using the state plane to bring Dr. Walter Williams to testify on nullification of Obamacare. They ruled unanimously that the complaint was without merit. Bill Chumley was exonerated. Now there a few items that still must be addressed. Let us “leave no stone unturned”.
To watch the video of the hearing visit:
Then click on the link at the right that reads:
Monday, December 23, 2013 9:30 am
House Ethics Committee — House Legislative Ethics Committee
During the hearing, Rep. Bill Chumley’s most ardent detractor was Rep. Leon Stavrinakis. Rep. Tommy Pope also seemed somewhat adversarial.
Other than the Chairman Kenny Bingham, the only other comments were made by Rep. Murrell Smith, who did not seem to be adversarial.
Rep. Leon Stavrinakis cited a proviso that states that “official business” shall not include transportation to and from committee meetings for which mileage is authorized. Rep. Stavrinakis tried to infer that the fact that mileage is authorized for Rep. Bill Chumley’s travel, had prohibited the use of the state plane for the travel of Dr. Walter Williams; for whom mileage is NOT authorized.
Leon Stavrinakis proudly stated that the previous vote to find “probable cause”, was unanimous. Stavrinakis was also proud to disclose that he was the one who made the motion to find “probable cause”. Incredibly, Rep. Stavrinakis claimed that the proviso, that he cited was “prima facia” evidence, even though this proviso has no relevance to a witness for whom mileage is not authorized.
The complaint against Rep. Chumley, was filed by Thomas Davies, who was Rep. Chumley’s Democratic opponent in the 2010 House election. Thomas Davies was present at the hearing, but did not testify. By not testifying Thomas Davies avoided being cross examined. By not being cross examined Thomas Davies avoided being required to articulate any alleged justifications for his complaint. As a result of this, we have no way of knowing whether Thomas Davies actually authored the complaint, or if he simply filed it at the request of someone else. The most troubling question, that is still unanswered, is whether or not a member of the Ethics Committee was involved in preparing the complaint to the Ethics Committee.
Information on Thomas Davies can be seen at:
Because of this complaint from Thomas Davies, House Ethics Committee was obliged to spend a great deal of the taxpayer’s money on the review of that complaint. How did the cost of the review of that complaint compare to the cost of that plane ride?
Because of the complaint from Thomas Davies, Representative Bill Chumley was obliged to spend a great deal of his own money on legal fees to defend against that complaint.
The Attorney General should now review the question as to whether the complaint was frivolous, and should be prosecuted.
The Attorney General should now review the question as to whether Representative Bill Chumley is entitled to recover attorney’s fees from Thomas Davies.
By resorting to such a tactic Thomas Davies revealed his own standards for ethics. This should be a lesson to the voters if Thomas Davies ever runs for any office again.
It would appear as though this matter should have never gotten past the probable cause hearing. Chairman Kenny Bingham explained that everything that is prior to the probable cause hearing is done privately (out of the view of the public). This is to protect the innocent.
Chairman Kenny Bingham explained that dismissing a complaint outside of the view of the public creates the appearance that “the fox in guarding the hen house.” Let us give Chairman Kenny Bingham the benefit of a doubt. But let us now eliminate that doubt by making additional investigation. We now need to audit every instance where the Ethics Committee DID dismiss a complaint outside of the view of the public. We need to know if there have been any instances of what Chairman Kenny Bingham called “the fox in guarding the hen house.”
Rep. Leon Stavrinakis responded to the assertion that there were many other uses of the state plane, which were more ethically questionable than that which was the subject of this hearing. It should also be noted that Rep. Leon Stavrinakis strongly suggested that those who know about other violations of the ethical use of the state plane, should make complaints to the Ethics Committee. It would seem quite reasonable to grant this request made by Rep. Leon Stavrinakis. We might have to obtain the same level of expert advice that was apparently available to Thomas Davies.
There was much discussion concerning the fact that, prior to requesting the use of the plane, Representative Bill Chumley had gotten a favorable opinion from the attorney, who is employed by the Ethics Committee. The assertion was made that this opinion was of no value. The taxpayers of South Carolina need to know how much they paid for this opinion that was of no value. The taxpayers of South Carolina need to compare the cost of the attorney, employed by the Ethics Committee, with the cost of the airplane ride.
The final segment of the video comes after the deliberations, that were made in the “executive session”. You may have stopped watching when the screen went blue, with a short title that read “executive session”. After the committee returned from “executive session”, Chairman Kenny Bingham thanked us for watching “government in action”, which is exactly what we saw. All of the deliberations were done in the “executive session”. It is clear that this “executive session” resulted in the writing of a script, and the rehearsal of the show, that was to be performed after the committee returned.
After the committee returned from “executive session”, Chairman Kenny Bingham “recognized” Rep. Leon Stavrinakis for the presentation of a motion. Rep. Leon Stavrinakis had said nothing outside of the “executive session”, but it appears that it had been agreed that Rep. Leon Stavrinakis; who had been Bill Chumley’s most ardent detractor, would be allowed to present the motion that the complaint against Representative Bill Chumley be dismissed. Apparently the agreements that had been made in the “executive session” had eliminated the need to ask if anyone would second that motion. The motion passed unanimously.
The names of the committee members are:
David Weeks and Mike Pitts were not present at this hearing.
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