April 11, 2005

"Nattering Nabob of Negativism" Speaks Up

Letter to the Editor,

In Saturday’s Greenville News article “Tax Credit ad raises ire at Clemson”, it was reported, “The ad is sponsored by the South Carolina Policy Council, the conservative group that commissioned the study by Clemson economist Cotton Lindsey.” Mr. Ed McMullen, President of the South Carolina Policy Council quoted Spiro Agnew, “You have a bunch of nattering nabobs of negativism who are trying to make an issue over whether it’s a Clemson study…” I guess that I am one of those “nattering nabobs of negativism” Mr. McMullen is referring to because I am adamantly opposed to PPIC and wrote an email to Dr. Barker letting him know my feelings about Clemson being drawn into this fracas.
The fact that Mr. McMullen quotes a person who disgraced his country by accepting bribes when in office is a disgrace in itself and may tell us something about those who are pushing PPIC.

What is interesting is that in Dr. Barker’s response to my email he wrote, “The study was paid for by the Lead Foundation which is an advocate of Put Parents in Charge.” Apparently those trying to foist vouchers on South Carolina are saying it came from the South Carolina Policy Council because they are getting sensitive to the fact that a tremendous amount of money (reportedly upwards of $250,000) is being provided by out-of-state right wing conservative organizations like – LEAD (Legislative Education Action Drive Foundation – a 527 organization in Chicago), American Legislative Exchange Council - a 501c(3) organization based in Washington - http://www.alec.org (whose model legislation “GREAT SCHOOLS TAX CREDIT PROGRAM ACT” appears to be where PPIC was taken from.) and All Children Matter, a Michigan based organization http://www.allchildrenmatter.org. The following comment is taken from the All Children Matter website “During the 2004 elections, the Michigan-based All Children Matter paid for radio ads and mailers here (SC ed.) that promoted candidates supporting tuition tax credits… Ed McMullen finds outside interest all to the good: "It's an opportunity for private philanthropy. There's a national network of money that could come into South Carolina." So here we have organizations from outside the state not only financially supporting PPIC but also stating that they have promoted legislative candidates in South Carolina who support PPIC!

Many others including the Miley & Associates study that was commissioned by the SC School Board Association (unquestionably in favor of public education) have refuted the LEAD-financed Cotton Lindsey study. One big issue that we, the residents of South Carolina should have an answer to “Is it ethical and legal for right wing conservative organization outside of SC to recruit, train and support SC legislative candidates who are in tune with their position on issues like PPIC? I naively thought that our legislators were answerable to the people of South Carolina, not small conservative moneyed groups from Michigan, Illinois and Washington DC.

Ben Turetzky
Salem Sc 29676


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