Columbia, SC – August 13, 2010 – With news today that Democratic gubernatorial nominee Vince Sheheen will be raking in a share of $1 million in legal fees by suing an industry he regulates as a state Senator, SCGOP Chairman Karen Floyd renewed the call today for Sheheen to release his legal clients for public scrutiny.
In 2007, trial lawyer Vince Sheheen joined a group of other trial lawyers – most of whom were Democratic legislators – to sue the payday lending industry. Today, it was reported that while the actual plaintiffs in the case may receive up to $100 each in damages, Sheheen and his band of attorneys will get to split a cool $1 million in profit.
Sheheen claims in today’s story that he “did not know much” about the case – for which he was one of the original filers, and from which he will reap a substantial windfall. He added that it was “virtually impossible for lawmakers who are lawyers to avoid cases involving state-regulated industries.”
He went on to add that he didn’t think the situation was a conflict of interest.
Sheheen took multiple votes in 2009 on new laws regulating the payday lending industry, at the same time his case against the payday lenders was pending.
Sheheen’s role in the case drew criticism from the media at the time. For example, in a 2007 editorial, The State wrote that, “Those lawmakers who have joined these lawsuits should stand down; there are plenty of non-legislators who are fully capable of trying these cases.”
The same editorial also referred to the case as a “money grab.”
SCGOP Chairman Floyd said Sheheen should allow public scrutiny of his clientele so that voters could determine whether he had any other conflicts of interest. While South Carolina law doesn’t require him to do so, were he to seek a federal office, any client that he made more than $5,000 representing would have to be disclosed.
“It should not be up to Vince Sheheen – who is profiting handsomely as a lawyer-legislator- to determine whether his work constitutes a conflict of interest,” Floyd said. “Liberal political insiders like Vince Sheheen have been profiting for too long from a system that lets them decide on their own whether their work is a conflict of interest, and as long as
they are making money from the system, the answer will be ‘no’ every single time. Vince should disclose his clients now, and stop hiding his work from the people of South Carolina.”
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