U.S. Sen. Tim Scott heads towards Baker and Brewer to participate in The Post and Courier's third Pints & Politics event Thursday August 8, 2019, in Charleston. Gavin McIntyre/ Staff

Scott Says 2022 Run Would be His Last Political Race

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, South Carolina’s junior senator, says that, should he seek re-election in 2022, that would likely be his last political run. “I plan to run for re-election, but that will be my last one, if I run,” Scott said on Aug. 8 during The Post and Courier’s Pints and Politics event. Scott has been in the Senate since 2013, when he was appointed to the post following the retirement of Jim DeMint. There has long been speculation Scott could one day run for governor. However, when asked at the Pints and Politics event if he planned to seek the governorship, the senator firmly responded, “No.” Scott, the only black republican in the U.S. Senate, also said his position poses unique challenges when he’s asked to respond to the divisive rhetoric of President Donald Trump. “Anytime you have a lot of tweets that go out and a lot of it seems to be centered around issues of race, as a living, breathing unicorn — a black Republican — it makes my life harder,” Scott said. “So I try to respond to his tweets when necessary by being authentic. I don’t try to sugarcoat what he says.” — Chris Trainor

John Hardee’s Wild Week

On Aug. 7, former state Department of Transportation Commissioner John Hardee, 72, was sentenced in a federal case involving alleged bribery. A day later, he was charged with soliciting a prostitute. Hardee, who was a SCDOT commissioner for a total of 13 years across separate terms, was sentenced Aug. 7 in federal court to 18 months of probation, 45 days of house arrest, 40 hours of community service and a $1,000 fine. As noted by The Post and Courier, Hardee “had faced up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for telling a contractor, in a conversation recorded by the FBI, to delete emails about the businessman’s monthly payments to Hardee.” However, scrutiny of those payments could continue, as state authorities are weighing whether they ran afoul of South Carolina law. Then, on Aug. 8, the Richland County Sheriff’s Department announced Hardee had been charged with solicitation of prostitution. He was booked into Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center and later released on bond. As Free Times was going to press, the sheriff’s department had not released details of the arrest. The solicitation charge could threaten the probation Hardee received in the federal case. — Chris Trainor

New Vista Hotel Proposed As Part of Potential Large Development

A new high-rise Hilton hotel has been proposed as the first part of a redevelopment of much of a city block in the Vista. Developer Ben Arnold is proposing to build an 11-story, 150-room, full-service hotel on a block he owns on Gervais Street. The area is adjacent to the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. As Free Times went to press, Arnold’s proposal for the Hilton Tapestry Hotel, the first part of a redevelopment of much of the site, was set to go before Columbia’s Board of Zoning Appeals on Aug. 13 because part of it exceeds the allowable height for the Vista. In its application, Arnold Development asserts that the full height of the building will not loom over the street because it is set back from Gervais Street and will be screened by other portions of the project. The hotel would rise parallel to the historic grain elevators of Adluh Flour. The Hilton would be connected to the historic former railroad depot that now houses Wet Willie’s, among other businesses. — Mike Fitts, The Post and Courier

Graham Talks “Red Flag” Gun Bill Following Mass Shootings

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham is pushing for so-called “red flag” gun legislation after recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio left more than 30 people dead. As noted by The State, Graham and Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal are touting the legislation, which would allow a family member to use the courts to take guns away from people who could harm themselves or others. “None of these [recent mass shooting] cases involved somebody that got around a background check,” Graham said. “All these guys bought the gun legally. There’s so many — like the guy in Dayton. If you get kicked out of school for threatening your schoolmates, with a rape list and a kill list, maybe you shouldn’t buy a gun. That’s the heart of the matter here.” Graham says federal grants could help states establish their own red flag laws. Some of that money could be used for mental health professionals to assist law enforcement with determining whether a person poses a threat. “You’re an average cop, I mean, you run into bizarre people all the time, OK?” Graham said, according to The State. “You need somebody to help you figure out, hey this guy’s about to blow, this is more serious than that case. This is what’s missing in the system.”

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