South Carolina District 4 congressional candidate and District 20 Statehouse Representative Dan Hamilton has taken $11,750 in total between nine different donors who are currently executives of the Greenville Health System. This figure is accurate as of Hamilton’s most recent Federal Election Commission filing, which includes the donations he has received through March 31st. Among these donors are GHS President Spence Taylor ($2,500), GHS SCO Michael Riordan ($2,500), and GHS COO Gregory Rusnak ($1,000).
GHS has been featured heavily in the news and the issue of its privatization has been a hotly contested one. A lawsuit has been filed to stop the process, which we have spoken of extensively before:
At the core of the lawsuit filed September 2, 2016, in Circuit Court in Greenville, SC, is a plan to give away a $6 billion public asset to newly formed private corporations (created by the Greenville Health System Board) for the sum of just $1 per year for the next 100 years. The group of legislators and citizens conducting the press conference believe that the GHS board is not acting in the best interest of the public and is acting outside its legal authority.
Earlier this year, when asked about the GHS controversy, Hamilton said “On it’s face, it does seem worrisome that we would sell an asset and have an unknown buyer and cede control of our health care choices to who knows who at this point,” he said. “I’m for local control of health care. That would be my first priority.” This answer seems to contradict his willingness to accept large sums of money from the very same individuals seeking to take that local control away.
Hamilton also voted last week to “continue” hearing discussion on a bill that would have placed a non-binding referendum onto the ballot this year, rather than allowing the bill to pass. By doing so, voters have been effectively prevented from getting a direct vote on the matter, despite the fact that non-binding votes do not compel the legislature to actually do anything, so said vote would have only served to give lawmakers an idea of what their constituents want. When asked why he had done this, Hamilton said “I felt it would not be helpful to have a non-binding referendum this November on this particular issue.”
Hamilton is not the only South Carolina representative to shift his position on GHS. First term State Senator William Timmons, who is one of 12 GOP primary candidates running against Hamilton for the District 4 seat, has gone back and forth on the GHS sale, and he has recently called for a debate on the subject between himself and those filing the lawsuit against GHS, which the Greenville Tea Party has offered to host. When said offer came through, Timmons seemingly changed his mind, saying “I am happy to not participate.” Timmons has become heated over the issue before, as he threatened to “crucify” a member of the Greenville Tea Party during a text message exchange on the subject.
It seems that the GHS issue will continue to dominate the political landscape of the Upstate for some time.