Pundit's testimony sparks bipartisan outrage over state plane's - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Pundit's testimony sparks bipartisan outrage over state plane's use

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

You might be familiar with the face and name of Dr. Walter Williams. Because in addition to his work as an economics professor at George Mason University, Williams is one of the country's better known conservative pundits.

He is a columnist and fill-in host for Rush Limbaugh. Williams is also featured in YouTube videos including one on nullifying Obamacare.

That subject that brought Williams from the DC area to Columbia Wednesday morning. He was invited here to speak to a House Judiciary subcommittee studying a bill championed by Spartanburg lawmaker Bill Chumley -- a bill known as the "South Carolina Freedom of Health Care Protection Act."

But it's how Williams got to Columbia that caused the most outrage.

With Democrats leading criticism, lawmakers from both parties ripped the use of one of the state's two airplanes to fly Williams to the Midlands.

Williams was picked up and flown here on "Palmetto Two" -- a seven-seat Hawker Beechcraft King Air C90. One cost estimate for the trip puts the bill right at $6,000.

"Isn't that a nightmare if the senator from Cherokee wants to fly in somebody to testify on one side, I want to fly in somebody on a different side, or all 46 members of this Senate. I mean how do you set the priorities?" said Sen. Nikki Setzler.

Majority Leader Harvey Peeler says maybe the state should just sell off both of its planes.

"Let's just ground the state plane. I'm just curious. Does the state even need to own the plane? Why can't we fly commercially? We'd save taxpayer dollars, the upkeep and this abuse if anything good comes out of this, maybe we can ground the state planes and save the taxpayer dollars," said Peeler.

Chumley defended the spending, calling it a "good use" of state tax dollars because he says his bill is good for the state. There was one other witness testifying for Chumley's bill. Rep. James Smith says that person, Tea party activist Kent Masterson Brown, admitted he was paid $7,500 to appear.

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