MORNING BUZZ: Bill Chumley's ethics hearing, Chinese textile jobs in SC and the Highway Patrol's 'Target Zero'

Posted by ADAM BEAM on December 22, 2013 

Rep Bill Chumley

— Merry Christmas Bill Chumley.

The GOP state representative from Spartanburg gets to celebrate Christmas Eve Eve by explaining to the House Ethics Committee how he did not break the law when he used the state air plane to fly Walter Williams -- an economist and conservative pundit -- to Columbia to testify in favor of a bill Chumley sponsored.

But while some Tea Party groups have labeled today's hearing a "witch hunt," don't feel too bad for Chumley. He requested today's hearing after the House Ethics Committee voted to find "probable cause" that Chumley violated the ethics law. The committee did not plan to have a hearing, but Chumley wanted his day in court. The committee tried to schedule it two weeks ago, but Chumley could not make it work with his schedule.

We're not sure what defense Chumley will use, but Rick Brundrett gives Chumley some pointers in an article that House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, Senate Finance Committee chairman Hugh Leatherman and House Ways and Means chairman Brian White all used the state airplane to fly to Washington, D.C.:

None of those legislative leaders has been accused of improperly using state-owned planes. But on Nov. 26, the S.C. House Ethics Committee voted unanimously among those present to find probable cause that Rep. Bill Chumley, R-Spartanburg, might have violated state ethics law by authorizing the use of a state plane in March to bring George Mason University economics professor Walter Williams from the Washington area to testify at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on a bill sponsored by Chumley.

TROUBLE IN CHARLESTON?: The Post and Courier reports Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell could be facing opposition for the College of Charleston presidency, citing "At least two Charleston NAACP leaders" who "question McConnell's credentials, saying that his longtime association with Confederate causes could present a negative image of the school to the state's minority students." Click here to read the story.

SPOTTED: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle at the Diamond Head Classic basketball tournament in Honoulu. POTUS and FLOTUS attended the Oregon State-Akorn game -- the game before the University of South Carolina was scheduled to play Saint Mary's. POTUS brother-in-law coaches at Oregon State. USC play-by-play announcer Andy Demetra snapped this pic:

MSNBSC: It was a South Carolina reunion on MSNBC on Sunday as Wofford graduate and former WIS anchor Craig Melvin interviewed former S.C. GOP chairman Katon Dawson on MSNBC. Dawson was part of a panel discussion about immigration reform. Watch the video below:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

TARGET ZERO: The State's Chris Winston reports on the S.C. Highway Patrol's new highway safety campaign: "Target Zero: A goal we can all live with":

For the first time in 31 years, the Palmetto State should finish the year with fewer than 800 traffic fatalities. Through Thursday, 717 motorists, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians had died on the state’s roadways, according to preliminary figures from the S.C. Department of Public Safety.

That’s down 120 deaths from the same period in 2012 and continues a multi-year downward trend — a feat that safety officials say can be attributed to partnerships with local law enforcement officers and nonprofit groups, education efforts and enforcement.

But safety officials say we can do better.

Click here to read the full story.

CHINESE TEXTILE JOBS IN SOUTH CAROLINA: The Wall Street Journal reports about Chinese textile firms moving jobs to the U.S., featuring a plant in Lancaster:

Zhu Shanqing, who owns a yarn-spinning factory in Hangzhou in China's Zhejiang province, is struggling with rising costs for labor, energy and land. So he is boxing up some of his spindles and moving.

To South Carolina.

Mr. Zhu is one of a growing number of Asian textile manufacturers setting up production in the U.S. Southeast to save money as salaries, energy and other costs rise at home. His company, Keer Group Co., has agreed to invest $218 million to build a factory in unincorporated Lancaster County, not far from Charlotte, N.C. The new plant will pay half as much as Mr. Zhu does for electricity in China and get local government support, he says. Keer expects to create at least 500 jobs.

Click here to read the story (subscription required)

INSPIRATION AT FORT JACKSON: An Army chaplain beats cancer, then rubs it in by running a marathon. On a race track. The Associated Press' Susanne Schafer has the story

REMEMBERING ESSIE WASHINGTON-WILLIAMS: Marilyn Thompson, a founding of The State Media Co.'s Hall of Fame, wrote an essay in Politco Magazine about Essie Washington-Williams, the secret African-American daughter of the late U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond. Click here to read it.

WHAT SC POLITICOS ARE REALLY READING THIS WEEK: USA Today columnist says Texas should think about hiring Steve Spurrier.

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