Request line: Here’s that Pinson thread Silence wanted

Nothing I’ve posted the last couple of days has engaged y’all’s interest much. So I suppose I’ll take requests.

On the last post, Silence asked: “Can we [have] Pinson thread? Or top headlines, or something?

It took me a moment to realize what he meant. Google was no help. But then I realized I had read the name “Pinson” this morning, and here’s that story:

Jonathan Pinson and a Florida business associate, both facing federal corruption charges, courted Mayor Steve Benjamin and two others on City Council about more Columbia development projects, according to interviews and documents obtained by The State newspaper.

Federal prosecutors have tied only Pinson’s Village at River’s Edge to their ongoing investigation. But the newspaper’s inquires show that Pinson and admitted kickback payer Richard Zahn of Florida have been much more active in Columbia than had been known publicly.

The corruption case against Pinson, a close friend and business partner of Benjamin, enters a critical stage Wednesday with a hearing in Charleston. U.S. District Judge David Norton will determine whether months of the FBI’s secretly taped telephone conversations from the investigation can be played at trial or ruled inadmissible….

No one on City Council has been charged with a crime….

About the only thing I can think of to say about the story (and this reflects my habits of thought as an editor) is that it takes its sweet time naming the other council members who had traveled to Florida and heard the pitch from these guys Pinson and Zahn. Even though the mayor is named twice in the first three grafs, you don’t read the names of Tameika Isaac Devine and Brian DeQuincey Newman until the jump page.

But I don’t see enough information here to base a conclusion on. It appears that this Pinson guy is, as Gil Walker said, something of a “big talker.” And that Benjamin, Devine and Newman all paid him and Zahn more attention than I’m entirely comfortable with. But I don’t see anything that negates the council members’ claim that these meetings, like “many they participate in, were in response to requests from people interested in doing business with the city.”

And apparently, the feds haven’t seen anything like that either.

Beyond that, I guess I’m waiting for some further, clarifying information before I draw any conclusions.

32 thoughts on “Request line: Here’s that Pinson thread Silence wanted

    1. Juan Caruso

      Thanks for the interesting YouTube link, Bill.

      Mr. Moyers blames unnamed “mercenary predators” in D.C. with bold-faced names.

      “They get the tax breaks, the loopholes, the contracts, the payoffs; thet fix the system so multimillionaires hedge fund managers and private equity tycoons pay less of a tax rate on their income than schoolteachers, police, firefighters, secretaries and janitors…”

      Unfortunately, Moyers then castigates journalists for failing to alert the public to what has actually been going on in Washington. I say unfortunately, because lawyer Bill Moyers omits any mention of the wealthy K-Street law firms who reap millions of dollars annually by lobbying our elected politicians for the benefit of foreign interests, subversive groups, and greedy domestic organizations like trial lawyers and multinational corporations.

      How do we explain why Mr. Moyers blames journalists for something identifies as an imminent threat to democracy, yet as a journalist himself, he refuses to reveal how such despicable influence peddling takes place almost 365 days a year (even during congressional recesses)?

      K-Street lobbying firms are largely owned by lawyers and staffed by thousands more. Oh, have I mentioned that Bill Moyers, like Charlie Rose is also a lawyer?

  1. Kathryn Fenner

    The mayor is a long-time associate of Pinson and others involved in the story. The other city council members were investigating what seemed like a possible solution to the Gonzales Gardens mess and also the project on Fairfield Road. Hindsight is 20/20. At the time, Pinson and entourage were credible real estate developers. Real estate development tends to attract a more, um, colorful crowd…..

    1. Juan Caruso

      The back story is juicy, itself (hints of violence and turning a witness for prosecution):

      “On Dec. 28, 2012, Pinson resigned from the board altogether – nine days after a federal grand jury indicted him on charges of interference with commerce by threat of violence.
      Prosecutors have promised more indictments but haven’t said if any upcoming charges will be related to the transportation center. However, John Crangle of watchdog group Common Cause said federal authorities may be hoping that Pinson and Robinson can lead them to more information about the project.

      ‘They may be interested in the Clyburn Transportation money and what happened to all of that, and they feel that, if they can put the squeeze on Pinson, he can let them know what else he knows about the shenanigans down there,’ Crangle said. “

  2. Mark Stewart

    Travelling for economic development opportunities is one thing; flying down to Florida to meet with a developer (and Pinson) who wants something from the city is quite another thing altogether. Also interesting that three city council members traveled down to the meeting.

    Unfortunately, a whole lot worse goes on every day around the Midlands. That’s the real issue; not so much this one particular situation. Tameika Devine and Steve Benjamin have both been linked too often to corruption for there not to be fire at the base of the billowing smoke. But it should not be glossed over that this kind of self-dealing is rampant in SC politics. Too many accept it as just the status quo. In a sad way, South Carolinian’s are an accepting bunch – especially at the intersections of the three-legged stool of politics, religion and the law.

  3. Silence

    I guess I’d like to know more about the Mayor’s business interests, and that of the other members of city council as well. Are the mayor and Mr. Pinson still business partners in the Convention Center Hilton Hotel? Why did the city take 11 months to respond to FOIA requests? Who was “Person A”, the former employee of the city who received the $5k payoff? Why did Pinson need to “skim” off money from the wire transfers for personal use? Couldn’t he have just used a portion of the money to pay himself a salary?

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      Best guess on Person A, initials TL

      The paper has written in the past that they are no longer business partners. I think Steve still has an interest in the Hilton.

      We should require all elected officials to disclose business interests, and get tough on those stonewalling FOIA requests. Also, timely, complete campaign contribution reporting.

      1. Silence

        Yes, TL is a good guess for “Person A”. Does Pinson still retain an interest in the Hilton too? Does he maintain any business ties with the Mayor?
        Agreed that we need better (and full) disclosure of the business interests of public officials.

        1. Kathryn Fenner

          I would gather he does not. Thing is, federal indictments are super hush hush (technical term), in part because a good prosecutor is said to be able to indict a ham sandwich. Once the grand jury is underway, not a lot of info becomes public until the indictments are all issued. Best chance at info:trial.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      Yeah, but what if, since the modern world is far more complex than Washington’s, you don’t have reason to believe you are associating with someone of less than good quality, but you are mistaken? I mean, it’s all well and good if you can retire to Mount Vernon, but real estate development happens….

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      Very interesting….

      Apropo the good quality requirement: Pinson was a trustee at SC State. Trustee. Not somebody whose chief claim to fame was selling swampland in Florida, fwiw.

      The older I get, the more I realize that we cannot judge people all that well based on public information and reputation.

    2. Mark Stewart

      It seems pretty clear who the bad apple is; the question is who was seduced by the poisoned fruit?

      River’s Edge is the kind of thing that ought to see people sent to prison. That wasn’t a real estate development project; it was a scam. I have the feeling the same is probably true of the Clyburn Transportation center at SCSU, too.

      1. Silence

        I have the feeling the same is probably true of the Clyburn Transportation center at SCSU, too.

        Fixed that for you, Mark.

        1. Silence

          I have the feeling the same is probably true of the Clyburn Transportation center at SCSU, too.
          Trying again.

  4. Kathryn Fenner

    Jim Clyburn is known for being the political “godfather” to blacks he feels have potential. This happens in white political realms, too, of course, but since Clyburn is head and shoulders ranked above the next highest ranking black politician, he stands out. I expect that he may not be aware of some of the extracurricular business practices of some of his protégés.

    Such a shame

  5. Brad Warthen Post author

    OK, so this is the kind of post y’all like.

    Which reminds me — I’ve got a list of Top Ten Most Popular Posts on my blog in 2013.

    I’m going to make a particular point of posting it because one of the things to be learned from it is that, in keeping with conventional wisdom regarding the Web, lists draw a lot of traffic…

    Sometimes comments track that as well. The post with the most comments (86) in the last couple of weeks was the one about the Top Five Worst Christmas Songs.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I’ll tell you what’s horrid — most listicles make you click on a separate link for each item in the list, to maximize SEO and exposure to ads.

        That drives me NUTS…

        1. Silence

          If you start doing lots of top 10’s or listicles you can change your website’s name to “BradFeed” a’la “BuzzFeed”. We’ll need a lot of cat pictures and celeb articles.

          1. Kathryn Fenner

            Well my dog pictures are the top “likes” on my Facebook feed. Perhaps you need to stop by!

  6. Scout

    In my case, it’s not a lack of interest in the lack of engagement. Just way busy right now. But today was my last day of school, yay. So now I can focus on Christmas, sigh. At least I can sleep a little later first. The Christmas songs were easy to engage in because it’s easy to have an opinion without a lot of thought and without having to digest the details of a weightier story first.

    I think people are probably just busy.

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