The Buzz: What’s another SC constitutional convention among friends?

January 6, 2013 

— Pop quiz.

Who said this?

“It’s time to really dismantle the system of government. I believe we need to have a state constitutional convention.”

Was it:

A.) Sen. Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson and Tea Partier

B.) Sen. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg and fellow Tea Partier

C.) Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Kershaw County

If you chose C – the Democrat who wants to run for governor – you’re not crazy. You’re right.

Sheheen made his comment Thursday to journalists during the S.C. Press Association’s annual legislative workshop. Sheheen again is running for governor in 2014 – he just hasn’t announced it yet – so naturally everyone will be watching him closely this legislative session to see what he does and why he does it.

Sheheen long has been an advocate of government restructuring, filing bills to do away with the elected offices of secretary of state and comptroller general, making those posts gubernatorial appointments.

But throwing everything out and starting from scratch?

“The Legislature has to pass a resolution calling for one, and then the delegates are elected,” Sheheen told Buzz after he made his comments. “There are, like, 20 states that have done it in the last 30 years. South Carolina did it seven times up until the Constitution of (1895), so it’s not like it’s something unusual. But ... the political elites tend to not want it to occur.”

It is not the first time Sheheen has called for a convention to write a new state Constitution.

Two years ago, Sheheen – with state Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort – published an article in the Charleston Law Review calling for a new state Constitution. They argued the state’s current Constitution has so many mistakes – like allowing a literacy test for voting, which the U.S. Supreme Court since has outlawed – that the state would be best served by just starting over.

“When our last convention occurred in 1895, of the 162 members present, only six were black,” Davis and Sheheen wrote. “The convention was in part called so that newly re-ascendant whites could undo work that the Reconstruction government had created.”

South Carolina is no stranger to drastic ideas.

But most come from Tea Party-types. Sen. Bright, for example, has introduced bills calling on South Carolina to mint its own money, saying any new federal gun laws would not apply in the Palmetto State and repeal gravity. Just kidding (about gravity). But no one would accuse Sheheen of being a Tea Partier.

“What we are doing now is not working,” Sheheen said.

He’s baaaaaaaaaaaaaack

After six months in cyber-exile for referring to Republican Gov. Nikki Haley as a “Sikh Jesus,” Phil Bailey is back on Twitter.

The director of the S.C. Senate Democratic Caucus lost his Twitter privileges after that tweet. (At the time, state Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, said, “I don’t even know exactly what Twitter is, but he’s not going to be doing it.”)

But on Jan. 1, Bailey tweeted a picture of himself holding a shotgun and a moonshine jug along with a handwritten sign that read “#I’m Back!”

Reaction was swift.

“Guess being a Democratic mouthpiece in South Carolina means that for you, bigotry is a cost-free exercise,” tweeted Tim Pearson, Haley’s political consultant and former chief of staff.

Bailey’s response?

“My email acct got hacked. Where do I send a job application to work for SC Dept of Revenue? #GreatDayInSC #GetExcited”

Meow.

Hiss.

Repeat often – until at least November 2014.

Peeler gets carded

State Sen. Harvey Peeler, R-Cherokee, recently learned first-hand that the credit-monitoring service that the state is providing, via Experian, is working.

Peeler said he received a warning late last month about someone opening a credit card with his personal information.

Turned out his wife, Donna, got the card while on a shopping trip. Peeler jokingly called himself the first victim of the credit monitoring, instituted after the massive hacking at the S.C. Department of Revenue.

House Ways and Means Chairman Brian White, R-Anderson, asked Peeler what he told Experian about the new card: “Did you say yes or no?”

Psst, senator, it sounds silly, but maybe someone should call and ask

The Buzz says: Be careful of what you ask for.

At the start of a legislative preview session last week, state Sen. Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson, joked with reporters about how the media likes it when politicians put their feet in their mouths.

“I’m so good at that,” Bryant said, “I guess that’s why I’m at the top of the program.”

He didn’t disappoint.

In commenting about the lack of security that led to the massive hacking at the Revenue Department, Bryant said: “I don’t call the Highway Patrol, and say, ‘Are y’all putting guns in your bullets?’ ”

Hang in there, Rip; if she’s re-elected, you’ll get an apron

Newly elected state Rep. Beth Bernstein, D-Richland, and husband Rip Sanders, both Columbia attorneys who work together from their Assembly Street office, say they have had long talks about how to balance work and home life once Bernstein’s first legislative session starts Tuesday.

At a recent luncheon for the spouses of lawmakers, Sanders received something that might help with balancing their home life.

“The parting gift was a cookbook,” said Sanders.

Bipartisanship in 5th District?

U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-Indian Land, has named Jeffery Sligh, a former aide to U.S. Rep. John Spratt, as district director for South Carolina’s 5th District.

Sligh worked in Spratt’s Rock Hill office until Mulvaney unseated the longtime incumbent in 2010, ending the York Democrat’s 28-year career in the Congress.

After the 2010 election Mulvaney and his chief of staff asked Sligh to stay on, a move supported by more than 400 Rock Hill residents who signed a petition. Now, Sligh has been promoted to district director. “Jeffery has served the Fifth District for 30 years, and it’s been an honor to work with him as he truly represents the very best public service has to offer,” Mulvaney said in a statement.

The 5th District runs from the central part of South Carolina — Sumter and Fairfield counties — north to the N.C. state line.

Staff writers Andrew Shain and Jamie Self contributed

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