The Buzz

THE BUZZ: PAC-ing up? Site tied to SC House speaker goes offline

February 3, 2013 

The Buzz just bought a milk carton that had a screenshot of the website for the political-action committee associated with House Speaker Bobby Harrell on the side and it said: “Missing.”

The disappearance of the Palmetto Leadership Council’s website was noticed Monday when a ethics-reform commission, created by Gov. Nikki Haley, called for the end of leadership PACs.

The site was down through Saturday, so The Buzz tried to find out what happened to the front door of the PAC known for contributing to GOP legislative candidates.

Well, don’t ask Harrell’s office. The Charleston Republican’s folks remind reporters the speaker has no ties to the PAC, though the council’s site included his picture and a letter with his signature: “The Palmetto Leadership Council is dedicated to a positive, bipartisan effort to find workable solutions to the major problems we face.”

Harrell’s staff referred questions to PAC executive director India Hazzard Pickelsimer. We got about as far as her Linkedin page (nice smile in the photo, by the way). She never responded to a week’s worth of calls or emails.

At the end of 2012, the PAC had less than $7,000 left on hand – a five-year low – after spending $1.6 million that it raised in the election cycle, according to S.C. Ethics Commission records.

Is the council kaput? Is the site down for maintenance or getting a makeover (sans speaker, perhaps)? Did hackers take over? Let us know.

Sticking to her guns

New state Sen. Katrina Shealy wants to teach teachers how to get concealed weapons permits, and the Lexington County Republican, who shot down incumbent Jake Knotts in November, said she has 40 takers for free classes so far.

One problem: Teachers can’t tote guns to school.

That will change if lawmakers pass a bill Shealy introduced to lift the school gun ban for concealed permit holders. The prospect of an armed educator taking down an armed gunman far outweighs the risk of any hidden guns making their way into students’ hands, she said.

The Buzz wondered what Shealy thinks about SLED Chief Mark Keel’s concern that armed civilians might confuse police looking for a gunman.

No problem, she said to us: “Hopefully, by the time the police officers responded, the perp is already down.”

A forgetful moment led to memorable vote

The state’s most hotly contested judicial race came down to a lawmaker’s memory lapse.

State House and Senate members moaned Wednesday when the first vote for an at-large family court seat – a contest between Rosalyn Frierson, a state court administrator under state Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Toal, and Kelly Pope, a Lyman attorney – tied at 82.

A second vote broke the deadlock at 83-82 with state Rep. Steve Moss, R-Cherokee, casting the deciding vote for Pope.

The retired banker didn’t changed his preferred candidate. On the first go ’round, Moss said, “I forgot to vote.”

Where’s Nikki?

The guv took a jaunt to New York City on Jan. 24 – not that her constituents would know about it.

Haley attended a fundraiser that night, her political operation revealed after The Buzz learned of it through State House grapevine. (We asked for deets but got honked at by a cabbie.)

The trip was not on Haley’s schedule released each week – part of her office’s practice of not sharing the guv’s political events except when they are huge, like addressing the Republican National Convention.

The Buzz wonders if more than a few South Carolinians would like to know when their state’s chief executive crosses state borders.

Recent Palmetto State vacationer and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (more on that later) shares travel news with reporters, his office says. Christie also must turn over the state to the state’s lieutenant governor when heading outside Jersey, according to his state’s laws.

There’s no law like that in South Carolina despite the infamous Appalachian Trail incident of ’09.

Haley’s staff said the first-term Republican governor has no plans to change what she reveals about her non-gubernatorial travel, adding she already shares more about her happenings than previous administrations.

Anyway, Haley’s office says it tells Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell, R-Charleston, when the governor heads out of state.

The Buzz is glad someone knows.

The half-zip’s Palmetto trip

Christie, his son and his fleece pullover spent a few days in the Aiken area to see friends, lunching Monday at Juniper restaurant in Ridge Spring where owner Brandon Velie snapped a few photos of the New Jersey governor for his wall.

Christie ordered the special of the day, a meatloaf sandwich, and was gracious with all – even though Velie, a diehard Yankees fan, told The Buzz that he needled Christie about his beloved (and beleaguered) Mets.

The Garden State governor had time for golf but did not visit his Columbia counterpart, Haley’s office said.

The Buzz is sure Haley, known for using social media to convey her musical favorites and listening habits, would have loved a Bruce Springsteen mix tape.

Maybe next time, Chris.

Top Panther prowls the State House

The Buzz bumped into Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson in the State House lobby Thursday – and was called for pass interference on the former pro receiver.

Richardson wouldn’t give Buzz a Super Bowl prediction, and he didn’t ask us – or South Carolina, as far as we know – to contribute to his NFL team’s planned $250 million Bank of America Stadium renovation.

Richardson said he was visiting to thank S.C. lawmakers for a recent resolution honoring him and his team. Two days after asking N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory for $62 million in state help to remodel his stadium, the team’s top cat also spent a few minutes chatting football with Haley.

The former Baltimore Colt said he plans to keep his team practice site on the Spartanburg campus of his alma mater, Wofford College.

Staff writer Jamie Self contributed

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