The Buzz

SC agent who crashed vehicle while driving Lt. Gov. doesn’t face further discipline

Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette and husband, David, head back into the State House after the 97th Inauguration ceremony.
Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette and husband, David, head back into the State House after the 97th Inauguration ceremony. tdominick@thestate.com

The Sunday Buzz is The State’s occasional, sometimes irreverent look at S.C. politics.

A state law enforcement agent whose decision last month to turn on his vehicle’s blue lights and rush through an intersection caused an accident with the lieutenant governor on board has paid a traffic fine and will go through a daylong traffic safety course.

The State Law Enforcement Division has refused to release the agent’s name, citing a need to ensure the safety and security of the governor’s security detail. But SLED did say the agent will return to the governor’s safety detail without further discipline.

“SLED considers the incident resolved and no further actions warranted,” agency spokesman Tommy Crosby wrote in a statement to The State this week.

The agent was found at fault for the Spartanburg County crash and charged with a traffic violation.

Republican Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette and her assistant were unharmed, but the driver of the other car was hospitalized with minor injuries.

The agent must take a daylong driving course before conducting any more transport missions, SLED said. The agent had no history of disciplinary issues or traffic violations that would have affected his employment, such as reckless or drunk driving, Crosby said.

SLED permits its agent to use blue lights only when responding to an emergency — not to escape routine traffic annoyances, Crosby said.

Buzz Bites

Gun laws

President Donald Trump may have given up on new gun laws.

But one of his staunch Palmetto State allies, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca, was still voicing support for certain measures Friday during a South Carolina visit.

In Pendleton, Graham told reporters he still supported requiring background checks for firearms purchases online and at gun shows. He also promoted the “red-flag” legislation he co-sponsored with U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat. That bill would grant money to states to hire mental health professionals who could advise if action needed to be taken.

It also would provide a route for judges to remove guns from a person who poses a risk “with plenty of due process.”

“I’d like to do something on gun violence, and I’d encourage the president not to give up on this,” Graham said.

Impeachment

No surprises from South Carolina’s congressional delegation Thursday when the U.S. House voted on impeachment inquiry procedures.

The state’s two Democrats — U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn and U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham — voted in favor of the procedures.

Four of the state’s House Republicans — U.S. Reps. Jeff Duncan, Ralph Norman, Tom Rice and Joe Wilson — voted ‘No.’

Where was U.S. Rep. William Timmons? His office tweeted this week that the Upstate congressman — a first lieutenant in the S.C. Air National Guard — is on full-time military duty at McEntire Joint Air Base outside of Columbia through Nov. 22.

Timmons’ office would not discuss details of his assignment but said he is a JAG officer in the Air Guard.

Naturally, Timmons will not be able to vote from the House floor while he is out.

Had he been able to vote Thursday, Timmons would have voted alongside his Republican colleagues, his office said.

Awards

Call it a productive year for House Majority Leader Gary Simrill.

The York Republican helped move the Carolina Panthers across the border and into Rock Hill.

Now, he’s set to get an award for his leadership in the State House.

Simrill will receive this year’s David H. Wilkins Leadership Award from The Riley Institution at Furman University after the first day lawmakers return to Columbia on Jan. 14. The annual award is named for Wilkins, who is a former speaker of the S.C. House and U.S. ambassador to Canada.

In a statement, The Riley Institute said Simrill “is described by his colleagues as hard-working, knowledgeable and personable — a leader who consistently embraces ideas that move the state forward regardless of which side of the aisle they originate from.”

Best S.C. Halloween outfit?

Move over Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, or, err Hamilton.

But this dog had the coolest Halloween costume of all time.

Seen on Capitol Hill Thursday, a dog dressed as South Carolina’s U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, complete with fashionable socks.

What we learned this week

At the end of each Buzz column, The State’s politics staffers will share one bit of trivia they learned while reporting over the past week.

Wilks: Just four of the 170 lawmakers from the State House graduated from The Citadel, South Carolina’s military college. That number seems low.

Bohatch: The ceremonial sword in the S.C. Senate is a replacement after the first one was reportedly stolen.

Schechter: Too many of my newsroom colleagues like regular M&Ms.

Avery G. Wilks is The State’s senior S.C. State House and politics reporter. He was named the 2018 S.C. Journalist of the Year by the South Carolina Press Association. He grew up in Chester, S.C., and graduated from the University of South Carolina’s top-ranked Honors College in 2015.
Emily Bohatch helps cover South Carolina’s government for The State. She also updates The State’s databases. Her accomplishments include winning a Green Eyeshade award in Disaster Reporting in 2018 for her teamwork reporting on Hurricane Irma. She has a degree in Journalism with a minor in Spanish from Ohio University’s E. W. Scripps School of Journalism.
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