ROUNDUP: News site investigates if South Carolina lawmakers violated open-meetings law

Photo above: SC Gov. Henry McMaster, Larrison Campbell, MS Rep. Robert Foster and Jessica Priest

WATCHDOG TO WATCH: A South Carolina legislative delegation might not have followed the state’s open-meetings law last year by privately recommending to the governor candidates for a Department of Transportation Commission seat, The Nerve reported July 10.

The Nerve is an investigative news website in South Carolina that keeps an eye on state and local government.

The South Carolina Press Association has weighed in on the topic. The association’s Facebook page posted a comment July 11 from its attorney, Taylor Smith.

“At a bare minimum, the (S.C.) Supreme Court has said that these things that are legislative delegations in congressional districts are bodies that have the same requirements as your county council, your school board,” Smith is quoted as saying in the post. “It’s always safer to be more transparent.”

The Nerve is a member of the association.

REPORTING WHILE FEMALE: A Mississippi Republican candidate for governor denied a reporter access because she’s a woman, so she reported it.

Now, state Rep. Robert Foster is using the notoriety to raise funds for his gubernatorial campaign.

Larrison Campbell, a political reporter for Mississippi Today, had asked Foster’s campaign to shadow the candidate, a request made to other Mississippi candidates as well. Colton Robison, the campaign director called Campbell on July 7 about joining an upcoming trip, she reported.

“At the end of the conversation, in what he acknowledged was a ‘weird request,’ Robison said I would need a male colleague to accompany me on the trip,” Campbell wrote in the article.

Robison also told her that the optics of the candidate with a woman, even a working reporter, could be used in a smear campaign to insinuate an extramarital affair, Campbell wrote.

LAWYERS HONOR JOURNALIST: Jessica Priest, a reporter at the Victoria Advocate, on July 2 won a Texas Gavel Award for her coverage in the series  Port Politics. The State Bar of Texas gives the award to honor journalism that deepens public understanding of the legal system.

Priest examined the Calhoun County Port Authority after it hired former U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold as a lobbyist in May 2018. The newspaper reported that the port authority did not follow state law. 

Farenthold resigned from Congress after an ethics inquiry began about allegations of sexual harassment and that he used $84,000 of taxpayer money to settle a discrimination lawsuit brought by a staffer. The Society of Professional Journalists Legal Defense Fund helped the Victoria Advocate pursue legal action in the Port Politics reporting.

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