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Thomas Ravenel Gathering Signatures for Independent Senate Bid

Plus, Latta Power Struggle Continues
By Eva Moore
Thursday, June 26, 2014 |

Thomas Ravenel confirms to the Post and Courier that he’s been out collecting signatures from registered voters to mount an independent challenge to U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham this fall. (Democratic state Sen. Brad Hutto will also be on the ballot.) Formerly a Republican, Ravenel served as South Carolina’s state treasurer in 2007 before being indicted on cocaine distribution charges and heading to federal prison; as a result of his run-in with the War on Drugs, he’s now a Ron Paul-endorsing libertarian. He recently gained national fame as the star of reality show Southern Charm. He’ll need 10,000 signatures to get on November’s ballot.

Although Latta residents voted Tuesday to change the town’s form of government, essentially wresting power from the mayor who’d fired a popular police chief in April, the mayor defied voters by hiring a new police chief Wednesday morning. It’s still unclear whether the mayor has the authority or budgetary power to do so.

In the ongoing corruption trial of businessman and former S.C. State University trustee Jonathan Pinson, on Wednesday jurors heard a wiretapped phone call from 2011 in which Pinson said Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin and City Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine “worked behind the scenes to help Zahn [a Florida businessman who pled guilty] and Pinson win a contract to rebuild the city’s oldest public housing complex,” The State reports. The men did not get the contract to raze and rebuild the housing project, Gonzales Gardens.

The state Department of Transportation is finally opening up those long-closed lanes on Interstate 20 in northeast Columbia, ColaDaily reports. Work on the project will continue; however, as of today, “three lanes will be open to eastbound traffic along the six-mile widening project from Interstate 77 to just east of Spears Creek Church Road (Exit 82). Three lanes will be open westbound by 6 a.m. Friday as long as no weather delays occur.”

Lexington County Council voted 4-2 to move forward with a November referendum to allow Sunday beer and wine sales.

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