Smith: Anti-Obamacare witness transported on state plane

Here’s an interesting release that just came in:

Rep. James Smith Responds to Use of State Plane by Right-Wing Radio Host


Today, some members of the South Carolina General Assembly learned that one of only two people to testify in favor of H.3101, otherwise known as the Obamacare Nullification Bill, at today’s subcommittee hearing, was given special travel arrangements by being flown to Columbia from Washington, DC on Palmetto 2, a state airplane.  Dr. Walter Williams, a professor at George Mason University and popular right-wing radio host, gave testimony in favor of H.3101 today in Columbia after his taxpayer funded flight was authorized by Spartanburg State Representative, and lead sponsor of H.3101, Bill Chumley. The other person testifying in favor of the bill was a prominent Tea Party activist Kent Masterson Brown, who admitted he was paid $7500 to testify.

Representative James Smith, a member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitutional Laws, released the following statement in response:

“This is the height of hypocrisy and politics at its worst.  For taxpayers to be forced to foot the bill so that an out-of-state political zealot can push his extreme agenda is not only a dereliction of his duties as a public servant, it is just fundamentally wrong.  During his testimony, Dr. Walter Williams espoused the abuses of government spending and intrusion while engaging in precisely the same behavior.  While we work to make health care more affordable and accessible to our citizens, Representative Bill Chumley, would rather frivolously spend tax dollars to fly Tea Party ideologues down to South Carolina on the state airplane. I call on Representative Chumley to immediately reimburse the taxpayers for his reckless and irresponsible decision to spend tax dollars to promote his own extreme Tea party agenda.”


Gee, I didn’t even know that a single member of the Legislature could authorize something like that…

24 thoughts on “Smith: Anti-Obamacare witness transported on state plane

  1. Steven Davis II

    So was he the only person flown on the plane or were there others? Does it really matter as long as there were others on the plane and/or the flight expenses were covered? It’s harder on a plane to be sitting in a hanger than it is being flown.

    1. barry

      Harder on the plane? So your concern is not that taxpayers paid what is estimated to be $6,000 for Mr Williams to come to this hearing, but it’s the plane’s upkeep.

      Well maybe Senator Peeler has an answer for you.

      “Why can’t we fly commercially? We’d save taxpayer dollars, the upkeep and this abuse if anything good comes out of this, maybe we can ground the state planes and save the taxpayer dollars,” said Peeler.

    2. Mark Stewart

      So now what are your thoughts? Given that an SC plane was sent to pick up this one guy from near his house outside of Washington DC to testify in front of a legislative committe. I don’t think we even need to get into the whole nullification aspect of the farce.

      So now are you on board with the idea that someone other than the taxpayers need to pay for this? And that it set an unacceptable precedence that needs to be closed?

      1. Steven Davis II

        Actually, if it was set for him only and the expenses not picked up by someone other than taxpayers then I don’t agree with the way it was handled.

  2. Silence

    I’m gonna have to agree with Rep. Smith on this one. Why are we paying experts to come in and testify on anything? I can see paying reasonable expenses and even for professional services, but this is fairly ridiculous. How much does the state house pay every year for experts to come in and testify? I’d like to know. Also, can we not sell the state airplanes? It would be much cheaper to fly commercial, or if time is the issue, to charter flights on an as-needed basis. Hell, get the governor and each of the statewide officials each a NetJets card.

  3. Juan Caruso

    Representative James Smith (D) is an attorney, yet he blabbers not about broken law or rupture ethics, but an injection of opinion by an economist — a real economist, not a Spurling.

    1. Steven Davis II

      I wonder if Attorney James Smith has ever used the services of an expert witness?

        1. Silence

          Don’t be too sure we didn’t still pay for said witnesses travel and testimony. I think there’s a public fund that pays for “expert” witnesses to come and testify in criminal court hearings.

        2. Steven Davis II

          Probably not for his personal business, but who’s to say he or other Democrats haven’t used the state plane for similar instances.

          Unless the plane made a special trip up and back to transport him by himself and it was paid for by SC taxpayers I don’t have a problem. If the plane was scheduled to be in the air along that route anyway who cares? Putting 5 people on a plane making a trip instead of 4 isn’t really that big of a deal. Would there be a stink if instead of this guy they filled the empty seat with someone from SC going to Walter Reed Hospital? It was an empty seat as far as I know. It’s done all the time, but because one of your buddy Democrats raises a stink over nothing it’s suddenly blog-worthy.

        3. T McFadden

          No, I am certain that if Rep. Smith used an expert witness that he ultimately charged the bill to his opponent Whenever possible and did not foot the bill himself.

    2. barry

      Correct me but where did Mr. Smith object to Mr. Williams giving an opinion? I didn’t read that anywhere. Obviously he doesn’t agree with his opinion- but a lot of others don’t either – so that’s not the real point.

      I believe that he objected to taxpayers paying $6,000 for his opinion.

  4. Kathryn Fenner

    Sitting in a hanger beats sitting on one. A hangar, though, would be more comfortable.

    We don’t have any economists in Columbia?

    1. Steven Davis II

      Ohhh, the spelling police are out… when did they let a woman hold this position?

    2. Silence

      One of my Air Force co-workers has a sign in his office with a picture of a “hanger” and a “hangar” with the words spelled out, just in case…

  5. T McFadden

    Granted, the use of the state plane should be reserved only for state officials on official State business. By this definition, the expense may actually be justified. However, in the bigger picture, Obamacare is an absolute economic disaster waiting to happen. Anything that helps us defeat this boondoggle would ultimately be an enormous savings to not only the state but to the country as a whole over the short and long-term. Hopefully, one day we’ll look back at this and be thankful to representative Chumley and to Dr. Williams for their efforts to keep Obamacare out of this state as we witness its disastrous effects on the other parts of the country.

    1. Mark Stewart

      Not to personalize, T, but would it be a valid assumption that you are either:

      i) Over 62,
      ii) An employee (or retiree) of a federal, state, or local agency,
      iii) Vested in a corporate/institutional pension & benefits plan, or
      iv) Covered under TRICARE?

      Or able to answer to a multiple of those categories?

      I only ask because there are millions of gainfully employed contributors to society who do not have these to fall back on. It does appear to me that those most opposed to structural change are the one’s who are already at the trough…

  6. barry

    Let me get this straight- a Republican controlled House needs a Conservative economist to come down from DC on the state plane to testitfy in support of a bill most Republicans are in favor of anyway?

    Hmmm. sounds like a wonderful use of taxpayer money.

    I like listening to Walter Williams – but I’m quite surprised he would do anything that taypayers had to pay for. That’s quite hypocritical.

  7. Brad Warthen Post author

    This release moved just a little while ago:

    Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter asks for Advisory Opinion from House Ethics Commission on State Plane Usage

    Columbia, SC – State Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter (D-Orangeburg) filed a letter with the House Ethics Committee on Wednesday asking for an advisory opinion on whether or not it is appropriate for a member of the South Carolina General Assembly to access the state plane to transport subcommittee witnesses, and if it is appropriate to receive compensation to provide testimony to a legislative subcommittee without registering as a lobbyist. The questions were prompted by the news of Representative Bill Chumley authorizing the use of the state plane to transport a well-known Tea Party radio host from Washington, DC for testimony in favor of the Obamacare Nullification bill.

    See the attachment to view the letter.


    1. Steven Davis II

      Brad seems to get an awful lot of news feeds from the Democratic side of the Statehouse… not so much from the other side.

  8. Bryan Caskey

    Afternoon, commentariat.

    Regardless of the “ethics” of this whole thing, this is a classic example of government waste. The government officials aren’t spending their own money, so they’re less cautious in how the spend it. I would have figured that our resident liberals would be really excited about the Keynesian stimulative effects of this wonderful government spending.

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