Scott says he won’t run for governor in ’18
— Political pundits can cross one GOP rising star off their list of politicos who might be running for S.C. governor in 2018.
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, who was sworn in Tuesday to finish the last two years of Jim DeMint’s term, said he plans to run again for the Senate in 2016 and has no desire to run for governor two years later, when the seat opens up.
“Never say never,” Scott told reporters. But, he added, “If there is a plan that is very close to never, this is it.”
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Since Scott won election to the Senate in November, he has said he plans to run again for the seat in 2016. Scott also has said he likely would stay in the Senate no longer than two full terms. The Republican from North Charleston has said he has considered becoming a minister if and when he leaves politics.
Scott was in Washington on Tuesday with family – including his mother – for his swearing in. The event was “an emotional time for her,” including her first time sharing the stage with Vice President Joe Biden and other members of the S.C. congressional delegation, Scott said.
Scott, who was appointed to the Senate in December 2012 following DeMint’s resignation, said this swearing in was more meaningful because of the “decision of the electorate to place me there.”
Scott is the first black U.S. senator elected from the South – and the first African-American to win a statewide race in South Carolina – since Reconstruction.
When he was younger, Scott said he “didn’t think the American Dream was possible for me.” But his election to the Senate has “crystallized” the opportunity that exists for people, he said Monday.
State senators want S.C. police to wear body cameras
Two Democratic state senators will pre-file legislation Wednesday requiring S.C. police officers to wear body cameras while on duty.
Sens. Gerald Malloy, D-Darlington, and Marlon Kimpson, D-Charleston, said a bill they will file would require S.C. officers to wear the cameras while on duty to record their activities and interactions with others.
“History has demonstrated that eyewitnesses are not always the most reliable form of evidence,” Malloy said in a news release. “It is time for South Carolina to invest in common sense technology. This investment is critical to preserving the integrity of our system of justice.”
Kimpson said: “Disputed facts are often an issue in encounters with law enforcement as we’ve seen with the incident between Michael Brown and Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri.”
Kimpson noted a dashboard camera recently led to a state highway patrolman’s firing and arrest after he shot a man at a traffic stop. “Body cameras would provide everyone a clearer picture of the facts.”
Wednesday is the first day state senators are allowed to file legislation for the upcoming, two-year General Assembly that starts in January.
State Rep. Wendell Gilliard, D-Charleston, plans to introduce a similar bill in the House next week, when the lower chamber’s opens its pre-filing period.
Senator eyes money to expand interstates
—State Sen. Nikki Setzler, D-Lexington, says the state should set aside money specifically to borrow $600 million to expand the state’s weathered interstate highways.
The money would come from vehicle sales taxes that currently flow into the state’s general fund, Setzler said.
This year, those sales taxes are expected to generate $59 million for the state. If legislators approve, that money could be used to borrow $600 million to expand interstates more quickly, Setzler said.
“Then, we've got an interstate system that's first class,” helps businesses carrying goods inland from the coast, and benefits small businesses and S.C. commuters, he said.
Setzler will pre-file legislation Wednesday to require the General Assembly to commit the sales tax dollars to an Interstate Lane Expansion Fund.
The proposal is similar to steps lawmakers have taken recently to address the state’s multibillion- dollar deficit in road repair money.
In 2013, lawmakers committed half of the vehicle sales taxes to pay for road and bridge maintenance. Setzler’s plan would commit the remaining sales tax dollars to interstates.
Ex-Sen. Ford due in court on charges
Former Sen. Robert Ford is expected in court on eight charges that include misconduct in office, forgery and ethics violations.
State prosecutors said a hearing has been scheduled Wednesday for the Charleston Democrat in Columbia.
Last month, Attorney General Alan Wilson said Ford had been indicted on misconduct in office, forgery and six Ethics Act violations.
Wilson said Ford improperly benefited from his public office by using campaign money for personal use, then filing false campaign reports and submitting forgeries to the Senate Ethics Committee.
Ford resigned about a year and a half ago during hearings on similar allegations that he used campaign donations for personal expenses, misrepresented his spending, failed to report numerous expenses and personal loans, and then tried to cover it up.
Jamie Self, The Associated Press