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Attorney General Wilson Gave Himself a $39,000 Birthday Party and Here’s How the Tabs were Paid.

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A review of AG Wilson’s campaign donations and expenditures for the third quarter of 2023 show how the receipts from his recent 50th birthday party at Williams-Brice Stadium added up.

As shown in the quarterly filing attached, the AG spared little expense when he turned 50.

  • $1,207.40 to Bonnie Brunt Cakes for Birthday Cake
  • $4,000.00 to Greg Bickley for the Birthday Event Band
  • $33,853.94 to Southern Way Catering

We anticipate that the paid expenditures have also included the rental fees associated with the use of the facilities at the University of South Carolina, but a Freedom of Information Act request for all itemized invoices will be requested. Though we tried to reach General Wilson for a comment or explanation, his Public Information Officer did not return our message by the time this article was published.

Here are examples of the rental rates for William-Brice.

The Ethics of Campaign Spending and Receiving

According to the South Carolina State Ethics Commision, an expenditure is defined as a purchase, payment, loan, forgiveness of a loan, an advance, an in-kind contribution or expenditure, a deposit, transfer of funds, gift of money or anything of value for any purpose. Expenditures must be related to the campaign, or the office held. Use of campaign funds for personal expenses is prohibited.

Contributions are defined by the State Ethics Commission as a subscription, loan, guarantee upon which collection is made, forgiveness of a loan, an advance, in-kind contribution or expenditure, deposit of money or anything of value made to a candidate or committee, etc. for the purpose of influencing an election. It can also represent payment or compensation for the personal service of another person which is rendered for any purpose to a candidate or committee without charge. 

In reviewing AG Wilson’s full quarterly report, we noted a $25,000 contribution made by LJA Rail, LLC on August 25, 2023, to be intriguing. For statewide races, only political parties can contribute more than $3,500 per election cycle, so it is strange how/why this would have ever been potentially confused as a campaign contribution and deposited into a campaign account. LJA Rail, LLC is incorporated out of Texas, though we were able to locate an office space for the business in Charleston.

Similarly curious was an expenditure on Saturday, September 30, 2023, for $25,000 described as a “Refund of Erroneous Deposit” paid to “Sc Conservative Action Fund” with an address consistent with the Meridian Building (pictured) at 1320 Main Street in Columbia. Not designating a suite in the address line could seem precarious for a $25,000 check in such a building with 336,000 square feet of office space and multiple options for “hot-desking” listed online.

Additionally, an online review of charities and businesses with the name “Sc Conservative Action Fund” did not yield any results; according to Transparency USA, this is the sole transaction for this organization.

Though more details and investigation appear warranted, it appears that the check could have been intended to offset the prior month’s “erroneous” donation by LJA since that donation was the only one for such a large amount, but it still begs the question…

Why wouldn’t the AG’s office simply return the $25k to the physical address of LJA on record, indicate the expenditure is to LJA, and mail the check to where LJA is known to receive mail in South Carolina, if this was, in fact, the case?

We look forward to providing AG Wilson’s office with additional opportunities to provide details to his constituents and his donors all over the country should he desire such.

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