Sanford, banks and the pro-pot states

U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford last week supported two congressional amendments that would allow pot sellers in states with legalized recreational marijuana to gain full access to the federal banking system.

Because marijuana is illegal under federal law, some sellers have had difficulty in accessing banking networks for their business operations, which has forced many pot stores to deal largely in cash.

The result, they say, is that they must operate under conditions that are cumbersome and unsafe. It also creates a system that unfairly penalizes what are legal businesses in those states.

Sanford, R-S.C., took the states' rights view in the matter.

"I have never used any drug and don't want our boys using them," he said afterward in a post explaining his position. "But cutting off access to the banking system for businesses in Colorado that are legal strikes me as overreach and leads one to wonder what other businesses the federal government would try to shut down if it could."

He went on make a comparison between states that manufacture automatic rifles not being able to use banks because other states outlaw them, or Coca-Cola not having access to banks because New York City banned big sodas.

Sanford told Palmetto Politics the bottom line issue is not an argument over "pro or con on marijuana. But pro or con on Federalism."

Democrats short on cash in Senate race

Federal campaign disclosure reports last week indicated the two Democrats running for U.S. Senate are far behind when it comes to raising campaign cash.

As of June 30, Democratic hopeful and current Richland County Councilwoman Joyce Dickerson reported only $2,872 in cash on-hand to take on GOP incumbent U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, who reported more than $3.6 million available.

In the other U.S. Senate race this November, Democrat state Sen. Brad Hutto of Orangeburg also trailed far back in cash, listing only $51,109 available.

His Republican opponent, incumbent U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, reported having about $2.7 million after enduring a tough primary fight against six challengers. Graham's money is down from the more than $7 million he had at the height of the GOP primary.

No Flowers for T-Rav

Former Mount Pleasant Mayor Cheryll Woods-Flowers got a peek into how Thomas Ravenel collected the thousands of signatures he needed to get on the U.S. Senate ballot as an independent this fall versus Lindsey Graham.

While driving around Berkeley County earlier this month, she stopped at gas station where she was approached by a "somewhat disheveled looking woman" who asked if she wanted to sign a petition to put Ravenel on the November ballot.

Woods-Flowers said that she could never support Ravenel but then proceeded to ask the woman some questions. According to Woods-Flowers, the woman said she did not live in South Carolina and that she worked for "Let Arkansas Vote" before quickly changing her response to "Let South Carolina Vote."

Ravenel has admitted to hiring a vendor to collect the minimum 10,000 signatures needed to be listed as a petition candidate in November.

Woods-Flowers, who supported Ravenel when he was elected South Carolina's state treasurer before his cocaine downfall, said the TV reality star now is "making a mockery of the process."

"If there was a big groundswell of people that wanted him on the ballot, he would have used someone from South Carolina," she said.

Ravenel turned in about 16,500 signatures of state voters to the state Election Commission on July 14. The Commission has until August to verify them as legitimate.

South Carolina: Not the most corrupt state

New research into corruption in America says South Carolina is not among the "crookedest" states in the nation.

But while the Palmetto State didn't make it into the Top 10 of the worst listing, it did make it in as one of the Top 15.

The study, by the University of Hong Kong and Indiana University, examined more than 25,000 convictions of public officials for violation of federal corruption laws between the period 1976 and 2008.

The time frame includes the FBI's 1990s "Operation Lost Trust" sting of the S.C. Statehouse in which about two dozen lawmakers, lobbyists and other public officials were caught in a bribery scandal.

According to the data, the five most corrupt states are: Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Illinois and Pennsylvania.

South Carolina ranked 15th, according to the tabulation.

The examination also identified the least corrupt states, naming Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Nebraska and Iowa as the most legit.

Construction spending - especially on big infrastructure projects - is particularly susceptible to corruption, the report said, pointing to the size and scope often being difficult for the public to gauge or watchdogs to follow.