Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Cell phone sock puppetry?

Since all the famous bloggers are talking about Rep. Foley and the GOP coverup of his teenage page proclivities, I think I'll talk about some local wankery.

A warrant for the arrest of South Carolina legislator Thad Viers, R-Myrtle Beach, was issued in connection with some threatening phone messages received by a man who was dating Viers's estranged wife. In an unusual procedure, a Richland County magistrate then recalled the warrant and issued a "courtesy summons" (the magistrate says he didn't know Viers was a legislator).

Anyway, Viers is accused of calling the man and threatening to assault the man, his parents, and - this is really low - to assault the man's car. Viers says he didn't do it . . . but maybe some zealous acquaintance using Viers's cell phone did make a few calls:

Viers, R-Myrtle Beach, called James Zeigler six times, saying he would assault him, sexually assault his mother and father, and damage the man's vehicle, according to an incident report filed by the Columbia resident.

Viers, 28, a business consultant who was elected to the state legislature in 2002, denied the allegations Monday.

"This incident report is nothing more than a political hit job. I did not make the comments asserted in this incident report and did not threaten Mr. Zeigler, his family or his car," Viers wrote in an e-mail statement to The Sun News.

The incident report filed Sept. 11 by Zeigler claims there were nine phone calls from unindentified people threatening to hurt him on Viers' behalf.
Zeigler declined comment Monday.

Zeigler "could not identify the other people calling but has saved the recordings for investigators from his voicemail," the sheriff's office wrote. "Zeigler does wish to prosecute."

The unindentified callers may have been acquaintances of Viers, according to the state lawmaker.

"A number of overzealous acquaintances, sometimes using my cell phone, may have placed lewd, lascivious or threatening calls but I deny these blatantly false accusations," Viers wrote in the e-mail statement.

Don't you hate it when your overzealous acquaintances use your cell phone to make lewd, lascivious, or threatening phone calls to people who are dating your estranged spouse? Couldn't they at least use their own cell phones to do that shit?

One of the most entertaining things about the website version of the newspaper article about the voicemails is some of the comments from Viers's Taliban-like supporters: As of yet, no one's called for the soon-to-be-ex Mrs. Viers to be stoned, but give them time.

A little more about Viers:

Before this voicemail news broke, Viers was most recently in the local news for lobbying the Horry County legislature for favorable tax treatment for casino boats owned and operated by SunCruz. Viers is a state legislator. Doesn't it look pretty sleazy, you ask, for him to take money from gambling interests to lobby the local legislature in his own county? The answer is, yes, it looks extremely sleazy, but apparently doesn't violate any state laws.

From the opinion page of The Sun News:

Viers' lobbying looks bad

How swell that the S.C. Ethics Commission says S.C. Rep. Thad Viers, R-Myrtle Beach, was within the law in lobbying Horry County officials this week to accept SunCruz's $5 per person boarding fee offer. Viers' appearance Wednesday at a negotiating session as a gambling boat representative may have been legal.

But state law speaks only to impropriety, not the appearance of impropriety. In this instance, the appearance of impropriety is powerful.

Viers fought passage of the casino boat law last year, on the ground that local taxation undermined boat owners' property rights. At one point during the S.C. House debate, he even claimed that the boats already pay the county $3 million in property taxes - a wild exaggeration. Fortunately, the House passed the bill anyway.

Now Viers is fighting that same battle as a paid shill for SunCruz. He says that's a coincidence - that a Columbia firm assigned him to the case. But we're likely not alone in wondering whether there is more to his appearance on SunCruz's behalf than that. County Council members would be wise to ponder the question, too.

A few years ago, Rep. Viers didn't seem to care too much about business owners' property rights, as he objected to the Horry County Zoning Board's approval of a methadone clinic. But then again, back then he wasn't getting paid to care about that.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?