The back-and-forth TV ads between current SC Treasurer Converse Chellis and challenger Curtis Loftis can leave the uninformed voter confused on which candidate to choose. There is no Democrat challenger, so the winner of the primary essentially wins the position.
After researching the two candidates at their own websites and in various newspapers around the state, the Charleston Reader endorses Curtis Loftis for state treasurer.
Key points behind our endorsement:
- The Loftis ads successfully pointed out that Chellis has made himself the star of nearly $1 million in ads promoting the college savings fund. Chellis argues that the money came from non-taxpayer funds. Loftis reargues the Bank of America money could have been spent on better things.
Our take: Going beyond the frivolous nature of spending so much on cheesy bad ads, it’s galling that Chellis had to have his face front and center in all of them. If he’s so hungry for self-promotion and aggrandizement, let him do it on his own dime.
- The Chellis ad that noted Loftis had been arrested for domestic violence disturbed us greatly. Who wants to vote for someone that would beat their spouse? However, Loftis offers a believable and exculpatory explanation of the arrest and notes that he was deemed not guilty in court. Plus, he exposes Chellis’ willingness to stoop low by somehow gaining questionable access to a legally expunged record and then misleadingly publicizing the one negative snippet in it.
Our take: Chellis’ dirty dealings in his abuse ad show him to be untrustworthy and unreliable.
- Chellis has successfully touted his CPA status. It sounds like an essential qualification for a treasurer…until Loftis notes on his website that only one of all fifty state treasurers is a CPA.
Our take: We agree with Loftis that while a treasurer certainly needs to have financial/fiscal know-how, the position is more about leadership (over the staff of CPAs), investment advising and money management than about being the one that actually enters the receipts and balances the books each day.
There have been numerous other jibs and jabs from each side–accusations of financial mismanagement, “bug man” versus “Mr. Part-Time Work for Full-Time Pay” and so on–but ultimately, it comes down to incumbency: Has Converse Chellis been effective and superior in his position for the past three years? [He was not elected to the position; instead, he gained it when Thomas Ravenel resigned following cocaine charges.]
Chellis’ campaign site has a 12-point plan (as well as an earlier 11-point plan) for ways to improve the state’s finances. It’s a plan with which Loftis says he fairly agrees. But, like Loftis, we have to ask, why couldn’t Chellis have started working on these 11 or 12 points during the past three years? Multi-point plans are the realm of challengers–laying out all the things they would do if only given a chance. Multi-point report cards are the realm of hard-working incumbents. Where is Chellis’ own assessment of his performance?
[Note: Chellis has also posted his 12-point plan as the first and foremost item on the SC Treasurer’s official government website. Whether that’s an abuse of political campaign laws, we don’t know. It does strike us as inappropriate to be using the exact same PDF file in both locations. It also demonstrates that Chellis can’t seem to differentiate between fully formed official governmental requests and fluffy political posturing.]
On his campaign site, Chellis doesn’t offer voters a list of his key achievements during his tenure. His “Issues” area starts to tout his achievements–make that achievement, in the singular. He says he found $100,000 in his own budget he didn’t need. Then, he quickly switches to a list of stuff that needs to be done, stuff he didn’t do. It is stuff that seems important–such as getting South Carolina’s credit rating back to a solid AAA. Sadly, he doesn’t include this on his 11- and 12-point plans.
So now, after three years on the job, he’s going to start making improvements. We’re thinking we’d rather have someone that doesn’t need such a long warm-up period, someone that will be more concerned with focusing on the items in the multi-point plan than in focusing a camera on themselves.
The Spartanburg Herald-Journal sealed our opinion in their reporting and their editorial endorsement, which stated:
Chellis was selected by a landslide vote of the state’s lawmakers because he could be trusted to side with the General Assembly in opposing attempts by Gov. Mark Sanford and Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom to reform our archaic state government, and he has lived up to his side of the bargain.
The good ol’ boys have got to go…all of them. The entire statehouse needs to be cleared out, fumigated and replenished with shiny new, ethically guided, fiscally conservative members. It seems to us that a man who made his money in pest control is the right man for this job.
That’s why we’re endorsing Curtis Loftis for SC Treasurer.