HODGES AD SLAMS PLUTONIUM PLAN
Governor uses $100,000 in campaign cash to take aim at Energy
Tuesday, May 7, 2002
BY SCHUYLER KROPF
Of The Post and Courier Staff
Gov. Jim Hodges is spending
$100,000 of his re-election cash to blast the Energy Department's plan to
move tons of radioactive plutonium to the Savannah River Site near Aiken.
In a 30-second ad now airing
statewide, Hodges attacks the federal government for what he calls
"breaking their promise" not to make South Carolina a permanent dumping
ground for weapons grade plutonium.
features a picture from Hodges' visit to last week's practice blockades
outside the SRS gates and an Energy Department telephone number for
viewers to call.
"Stand with Gov. Hodges," the
announcer says, and "tell Washington: no plutonium dumping in South
Hodges felt compelled to use
campaign funds for the commercial because of the urgency of the issue, his
"The governor is using every tool
available to turn up pressure on the Department of Energy," said spokesman
Jay Reiff, who called the showdown a case of "David vs.
State Ethics Commission Executive
Director Herb Hayden said the use of campaign funds for position advocacy
is legal under state law if the expense is done in connection with the
official's duties as an officeholder.
also denied that the ad was designed as a Hodges re-election message or
was meant to dilute attention from the wave of campaign commercials being
run in_ greater frequency by some of the seven Republican candidates for
Hodges would have run the ad no
matter what season it was, Reiff said. "It is issue advocacy," he
Last week, Hodges sued the federal
Energy Department and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham to stop plutonium
shipments from coming into South Carolina. The shipments are scheduled to
begin leaving Rocky Flats, Colo., later this month. Hodges, who has vowed
to lie in the road to keep plutonium out of SRS, wants a legally
enforceable agreement that the material won't remain in the state
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Lindsey
Graham, a Republican running for U.S. Senate, has also filed a bill in
Congress that would allow the shipments - provided that the plutonium is
converted into fuel for commercial reactors.
Graham said his bill is safe for the state because it would require fines,
progress reports and mandatory removal if deadlines are
Hodges contends the bill is weak, and
says the Energy Department might ultimately find it cheaper to pay the
fines and leave the plutonium in South Carolina than to actually convert
it or move it.
Hodges' complaint could come
up later this week before U.S. District Judge Cameron Currie in the
federal court division near SRS.
Schuyler Kropf covers
state and local politics. Contact him at email@example.com or