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Letter to the Editor

SCRG Condemns "illegal Political Campaigning" by SC Superintendent Jim Rex

web posted June 24, 2008
Dear Editor,
Just one day before polls opened for last Tuesday’s political primary elections, Superintendent Jim Rex sent out an illegal email from his campaign account to his supporters, advocating the defeat of a long list of candidates Rex identified as supporters of school choice reforms.

The email sent by Rex, a sitting public official not seeking reelection this year, clearly stated that it was paid for by his campaign account and specifically advocated for the defeat of twenty-one House and Senate candidates in races throughout the state.  This type of candidate-specific independent expenditure by a public official from his campaign account is a clear violation of South Carolina’s ethic laws (8-13-1340(A)).

“It is disappointing to see that Rex is willing to break the law in an unapologetic defense of his failing public schools,” explained Randy Page, President of South Carolinians for Responsible Government (SCRG). “As a public official charged with running the State Department of Education, his job is to effectively administer that agency, not to lobby for political candidates or push his anti-reform status quo legislative agenda.”

Rex’s illegal attack on running candidates came just days after public school officials in Lexington School District One sent a similar political email. Using school computers and employee email addresses, Lexington One’s Communication Director Mary Beth Hill implored district staff to vote against any and all candidates receiving donations from school choice supporters and then directed readers to anonymous political blogs that attacked school choice advocates.

With a high school graduation rate of just 55 percent, South Carolina’s public schools are the nation’s shame. This despite per pupil spending of more than $11,000 for each of the 700,000 public school students in South Carolina. When public officials like Rex and Lexington One Superintendent Karen Woodward illegally meddle in legislative races their actions make it clear: South Carolina’s public school bureaucracy is a partisan political machine fanatically dedicated to blocking substantive education reform.

Neil Mellen
South Carolinians for Responsible Government (SCRG)


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