SC Policy Council files ethics complaint against Scout Motors Inc.

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David Hucks
David Huckshttps://myrtlebeachsc.com
David Hucks is a 12th generation descendant of the area we now call Myrtle Beach, S.C. David attended Coastal Carolina University and like most of his family, has never left the area. David is the lead journalist at MyrtleBeachSC.com

April 29, 2024

The South Carolina Policy Council and South Carolina Public Interest Foundation have jointly requested that the S.C. State Ethics Commission investigate whether Scout Motors Inc. violated state ethics law in connection with the nearly $1.3 billion state appropriation last year for the company’s assembly plant under construction in Richland County.

Specifically, the written complaint asks the commission to investigate whether Scout Motors Inc. violated state law (Section 2-17-25 (A) of the S.C. Code of Laws) by failing to register as a lobbyist principal before the S.C. Legislature and Gov. Henry McMaster approved the appropriation (Act 3 of 2023). Commission records show that the company first registered as a lobbyist principal with the commission a month after the law became effective on March 20, 2023, according to the complaint.

Under state law, a lobbyist principal is someone who “directly employs, appoints, or retains” a lobbyist to “influence by direct communication,” among other things, the “action or vote” of the governor or lawmakers “concerning any legislation.” State law requires that lobbyist principals register with the Ethics Commission within 15 days of “employing, appointing, or retaining a lobbyist.”

The complaint cites published findings last year and this year by The Nerve, the online investigative news site of the South Carolina Policy Council, regarding meetings or events involving Scout Motors officials or their representatives and Gov. McMaster, his staff or state lawmakers before Act 3 of 2023 was approved, as well as an earlier incentives proposal by the state of Mississippi.

The complaint contends that the findings “raise legitimate questions about whether Scout Motors or its representatives engaged in direct communication with lawmakers and/or the governor regarding Act 3 of 2023 before the law was passed.”

The complaint states that a main purpose of the lobbyist-principal-registration law is to “provide the public with advance notice of the identities of companies or organizations that plan to persuade state lawmakers and/or the governor to adopt their legislative agendas.”

A copy of the Scout Motors Inc. complaint can be found here.

The South Carolina Policy Council is a Columbia-based, nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization founded in 1986 on the principles of limited government, free market enterprise, and individual liberty and responsibility. The Nerve, which has been operating since 2010, focuses on government waste, lack of transparency, conflicts of interest and abuse of power in South Carolina.

The South Carolina Public Interest Foundation, which was founded in 2005 and is based in Simpsonville, is an independent, nonpartisan private operating foundation dedicated to ensuring that South Carolina governments, agencies and officials act in strict compliance with the state Constitution and statutes.

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