South Carolina elected officials and candidates have what amounts to a personal ATM that dispensed nearly $100 million since 2009 for such things as car repairs, football tickets, male-enhancement pills, GoPro cameras, overseas junkets and gasoline.
A joint investigation by The Center for Public Integrity and The Post and Courier also found state lawmakers and candidates used this cash machine to hire their own companies, pay parking tickets, purchase an AARP membership — and even buy a used BMW convertible for “parades.”
The money funding this political cash machine comes from candidates’ campaign accounts, reimbursements from state government and outright gifts from special interests.
The series won the 2015 South Carolina Press Association prize for investigative reporting and was named a finalist for the 2015 Scripps Howard award for Community Journalism. It also received second-place for Public Affairs Reporting in the Green Eyeshade Awards, a contest run by the Society of Professional Journalists in the South.