Columbia Free Times
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Businessmen Facing Corruption Charges Solicited City Support

Extent of Contact with Columbia Officials More Than Previously Known
By Porter Barron Jr.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013 |
Several businessmen facing federal corruption charges have had more extensive dealings with the City of Columbia than previously known. Citing documents and interviews, The State reports that Jonathan Pinson and Richard Zahn, an admitted dispenser of kickbacks, met with Mayor Steve Benjamin and City Council members Tameika Isaac Devine and Brian DeQuincey Newman, hoping to gain their support for several Columbia development deals that would have involved public money. Their two proposals went nowhere. Pinson is the subject of a sweeping federal corruption investigation that sprawls from S.C. State, where he once chaired the board of trustees, to the failed Village at River’s Edge development in north Columbia, in which Benjamin was a partner before divesting to run for mayor.

The S.C. Public Service Commission met with solar and wind energy proponents for more than two hours Tuesday, The State reports. While the PSC has taken no actions as a result of that meeting, it has the power to broadly influence energy policy in South Carolina. The meeting came three months after the PSC cancelled a similar event that was to focus on solar energy after receiving complaints from the state’s powerful utilities, which have been slow to embrace renewable energies.

A Chinese textile company, Keer Group, has announced it will open its first factory outside of its home country in Lancaster County, The Greenville News reports. The factory, which will produce industrial cotton yarn, is expected to bring $218 million in investment and more than 500 jobs to the area. A company official cited area cotton producers and the Port of Charleston as selling points for the location. Keer Group is expected to break ground in February.

A hearing stemming from a 69-year-old Clarendon County murder trial has been scheduled for Jan. 21 in Sumter, The State reports. Attorneys representing the family of George Stinney Jr. requested the hearing in hopes of exonerating the 14-year-old black boy who was accused of murdering two white girls in 1944. Based on flimsy evidence and dubious legal practices, Stinney was convicted and handed the death penalty, making him the youngest American executed in the 20th century.

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