As revealed here, special interests not just outside the Town of Lexington but not even in the state of South Carolina are making calls to residents in an attempt to shut down much needed intersection improvements.
Lake and Main has been told that callers identifying themselves as representing Americans for Prosperity (and confirmed by caller ID) are phoning citizens encouraging them to contact town council members to voice opposition to the 2% hospitality tax.
Americans for Prosperity is registered under the IRS code as a 501(c)(4). As such, it is not required, nor does it, disclose its donors. It is allowed to advocate for political issues, but cannot solicit votes for a specific candidate. Its sister organization, Americans for Prosperity Foundation, is a 501(c)(3), a designation that allows donations to be tax-deductible but has restrictions on political activity.
Opponents to the improvements claim “crony capitalism” – without understanding what that means – but they aren’t asking who is organizing the opposition and why. Why does a Virginia-based group that is secretive about it’s donors care about a piddly, limited-duration tax in little Lexington South Carolina?
And what of the Lexington County Citizens Watch? A prime opponent to the town plan, LCCW has been advertising Council member’s email addresses and telephone numbers (all available on the Town website). Curiously, LCCW keeps it’s own contact information, membership and leadership private. There is no such information on its website or Facebook page. Who are these people and why can’t citizens contact them? Kinda cowardly, yes?
Is the true crony capitalist in this story really the lone Council member who thinks the tax will hurt his restaurant business? The same Council member who favored the tax as long as 20% of the revenue went for things other than the intended intersection improvements? Of that, he wanted half, $1.5 million, to be put in the hands of an “advisory” group of his industry colleagues. The remaining Council members rejected the scheme in order to fund the project exactly as promised.
Who, then is the crony capitalist?
Despite the lobbyists, the outsider efforts and a self-serving Council member, the campaign appears to be failing – spectacularly.
Council members who have spoken to Lake and Main say the people calling them are overwhelmingly in favor of initiating the temporary tax to fund the improvements. The members are keeping track of the pros and cons to properly gauge citizen input. One member said that his calls are “94 in favor and 4 against.” Another has been invited to speak to groups outlining the plan and to respond to the misinformation fomented by others.
Clearly, the result of outside interference is a mere citizen recoil, it’s a a no-kidding backfire.