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Index-Journal: Gubernatorial candidate praises Greenwood Promise

When Gov. Henry McMaster last week announced that Dominion Energy would buy SCANA, returning money to ratepayers lost during the state’s failed nuclear power project, he called a step in the “right direction.”

Democrat Phil Noble, a 66-year-old business and technology consultant from Greenville, scoffs at that notion.

“I think the Dominion deal is just same scam, different faces. I can sum up my position on utility reform in two sentences. ‘We want our money back, all of it, and people ought to go to jail.’ Everything else comes from that,” Noble, who is running for governor, said. “If any candidate, Democrat or Republican, says, ‘I’m serious about utility reform,’ ask them two questions: ‘Did you take their money, and did you give it back?’”

Noble, who is casting himself as a political outsider without deep ties to Columbia, offers equally blunt assessments about the state’s education system (“it sucks,” he said), ethics scandals and demographics.

An early adviser to President Barack Obama, Noble is founder of three statewide nonprofit initiatives and is a former fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

Now living in Charleston, Noble ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 1994 and fell short in a 2011 bid for chairman of the state Democratic Party.

But a recent poll has given Noble reason for optimism. A Jan. 4 Trafalgar Group survey gave Noble a 5 percentage point lead over state Rep. James Smith of Richland among likely voters in June’s primary election, 25.4 percent to 20.3 percent, with 33 percent undecided and another 20 percent preferring a third candidate.

The poll was conducted among 2,223 respondents from Nov. 29 through Dec. 30.

“It’s not me, it’s the message. And people in South Carolina today are not waking up and saying, ‘given all our problems, let’s elect another white guy from the legislature that’s been there 20 years and been a part of this problem,’” Noble said.

Noble refuses to accept any special interest group funding, calling political action committee support a “corrupting influence.”

“You listen to people who pay you, and if the PACs are the ones who are paying you, they’re the ones you’re going to listen to,” he said. “I have a distinct disadvantage in fundraising, but if you claim you want to be a leader, you’ve got to lead, and you’ve got to suffer the consequences and be willing to take the good with the bad.”

Noble, whose wife is from Laurens, also has a burial plot in McCormick County.

“There will be Nobles in that cemetery going back seven generations, so I understand this state, and I love this state, and I’m the first one to tell you, about a third of this state is just nuts,” he said. “A third of this state would vote to secede again if they knew we were going to lose again. I mean, that’s who we are. But this election is not so much about liberal versus conservative, it’s about change versus status quo, and people care far more about that now, today, than they ever have in this state’s history.”

Noble, whose nonprofits include World Class Scholars, an online global exchange program, credited local leaders with being on the front lines of progressive initiatives in the state.

One of the ventures he’s most impressed with is The Greenwood Promise.

“I talk about it not everywhere, but almost everywhere I go,” he said. “This isn’t statewide stuff. Local counties have figured out to solve and deal with their own local problems. It didn’t come from Columbia, it came from out here, and that’s who we need to listen to. We need to talk to folks in the counties, because they’re the ones who know they need to solve their problems.”

By Adam Benson

Read more.

Alabama Senator Doug Jones Endorses Phil Noble for Governor

While Poll Shows Noble in Lead by Over 5%
Announcement touts Noble’s commitment to equal rights, early statewide lead

(Charleston, SC) Calling Noble “a truly principled, progressive leader,” Senator Doug Jones, the first Democrat to win a Senate seat in Alabama in over 25 years, today endorsed Charleston businessman and technology entrepreneur Phil Noble for the Democratic nomination for Governor of South Carolina.

Full text of Senator Jones’ endorsement:

“I’m proud to support my friend Phil Noble for Governor of South Carolina.

For years, Phil and I have been working together to reform and revive the Democratic Party in the South. My win was a step – and now the next fight is Phil’s for Governor in South Carolina.

I know Phil is a truly principled, progressive leader committed to real reform —something I know is sorely needed in South Carolina’s state government.

And, Phil can win. A just-released poll shows him in the lead by 5%!

My victory in Alabama was first and foremost a victory of, by and for Alabamians. But, we did get lots of support from many throughout the country – people like you who want a complete change of course from today’s broken politics. If we could do it in Alabama, it can happen in South Carolina!

Phil lived in Alabama in the civil rights era and I’ve long known about Phil’s family—and his father who was one of the first white community leaders in Alabama to stand up for civil rights and oppose George Wallace. For a long time after, the Nobles withstood a barrage of threats and harassment from the KKK and other white supremacists. But they never wavered and stood their ground for what’s right.

I hope that whether you’re in South Carolina or not, you’ll join me in supporting Phil, and giving him the same boost that I got from so many people around the country. You can make the difference.

I won my election because I was not a political insider and I challenged the corruption of politics as usual. I know that Phil will win because he is fighting for the same things.

Integrity matters now more than ever, and Phil will bring great integrity to the Governor’s office.”

Noble said he is very excited to get this endorsement. “Doug is clearing a path for reform-minded governors like those in North Carolina, Virginia, and Louisiana. We in South Carolina are itching to join them,” Noble stated adding, “Jones won in Alabama because he was the candidate of big change and real reform…the same things my campaign is all about and that is why I will win in South Carolina.”

Jones’ statement also highlighted last week’s Trafalgar Group poll showing Noble with an early lead in every part of the state and among all demographic groups. “I have only been in this race eight weeks, but I’ve been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm everywhere I have been. To have Doug’s encouragement and support only makes me more determined to lead our Democratic party and our state into a new era,” Noble said.


We’re ahead. Help me keep it that way.

We knew momentum for the campaign had been growing—but now we really know!

A leading national firm just released a new poll suggesting that I am the early front runner in the Democratic race for governor.

Check out the results below:

SC Governor’s Race – Democratic Primary
Phil Noble 25.47%
Other 20.61%
James Smith 20.38%
Undecided 33.54%

It’s always better to be ahead than behind, but it’s still early and we need to make sure we maintain our lead.

Will you stand with me and thousands of South Carolinians who are tired of the current status quo of corruption and inefficiency within government? Please help us stay ahead by making a contribution today.

These polls are early indicators that our message of big change and real reform is getting through to voters and that’s what this campaign is all about.

But this is only the beginning. We still have so much more to do to get ready for this upcoming year.

Let’s stand together to make 2018 truly great and a year of huge change for South Carolina. Your contribution can make it happen, but we need to start now!

Real Reform. Real Change. Right now. Click here to help us build up our resources.

We can’t do this without you.

Thank you,

– Phil

South Carolina: Healthcare, Mental Illness, & Addiction

Our healthcare system in South Carolina is in dire need of repair.

Over 120,000 residents cannot access medical treatment and we have one of the highest rates of mental illness and addiction in America.

Congress, the President, and the Republican Party have demonstrated that they do not have the willingness or answers to fix this mess, so we are going to have to come up with the solutions ourselves.

Expanding Medicaid is a first step and would instantly provide health coverage for half a million residents. Plus, we have already paid the taxes to fund it. Unfortunately, state Republicans have refused to expand this life-saving program due to one simple, ridiculous reason: Politics.

We need leaders who are willing to stand above the partisan fray and whose primary focus is improving the lives of our residents and great state.

Please make a donation to my campaign for governor so we can fight for South Carolina and stand up for our most vulnerable.

Thank you,

– Phil

SC Legislature’s harassment failure.

South Carolina had paid out $13 million dollars in sexual harassment settlements… so you would expect that the supposed stewards of our money, the State Legislature, would have clamped down long before these last two months brought the subject to the spotlight, right?

Of course they didn’t.

In fact, they sat idly by as one of their own got harassed:

In 2015, Senator Katrina Shealy was told by her colleague, Tom Corbin, that women were “a lesser piece of meat.” He claims they were joking around. She said it was a pattern of comments and she had repeatedly asked him to stop.

The Senate didn’t have a sexual harassment policy, and that’s where it ended… until today, when it was revealed that they will (finally) have one—and a very tough one at that.

It shouldn’t have taken this long and it’s probably not enough.

We need legislation that says individuals in the legislature, state government, schools, etc.—all entities that receive state money–will be responsible for their own legal costs and settlements if they are found to have committed sexual harassment or assault.

Only 4 out of 46 Senate members are female. That’s an absurd ratio and it needs to quickly change. Creating a better environment for state employees would be a helpful start.

Agree? Please support my campaign for Governor here and let’s lead this change together.

– Phil

Probes intensify on dealings between energy companies and SC Legislature

When I first announced my campaign, I asked Attorney General Alan Wilson to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate criminal wrongdoing in dealings between state utilities Santee Cooper, SCE&G, its parent company SCANA Corp., and the South Carolina Legislature.

Leaked internal reports and emails, a rash of resignations, and investigative reporting all support a series of troubling allegations and warning signs over the years that this was just one major kickback scheme—or at minimum—incompetence and fiscal irresponsibility to the worse degree.

We must determine if criminal collusion occurred and just how far this web of lies has spread. Since the early 2000s, these companies have been lining the pockets of state lawmakers so they could set the stage to scam South Carolina ratepayers into funding this failed honeypot—the V.C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station.

Every single campaign donation that was given to lawmakers by these energy companies needs to be promptly returned and all responsible parties must be held accountable.

The consequences of this total disaster are grave: 5000 people are out of a job and local ratepayers are being put on the hook for billions of dollars (approx. $27 per month for each household) so these companies and politicians can recoup the costs for their never-finished project.

Customers, voters…we all need to be outraged over this. Local electric bills need to be immediately refunded or reduced, members of Santee Cooper, SCE&G and the state Public Service Commission should all resign or be fired, and we must ensure that future lawmakers and regulatory agencies are always prioritizing South Carolina voters and ratepayers.

The disease of corruption has spread too far in SC. It is time we extract the perpetrators.

Help me in my campaign for Governorcontribute here so we can start to build momentum for the months ahead.

– Phil

We can do it in SC too.

Doug Jones is a personal friend of mine, and I cannot be happier for him or more inspired by his victory.

His win in Alabama last night proves that when we’re motivated, working together, and standing up for each other, we can win.

Even as a Democrat, and in Doug’s case, a fairly Progressive one at that.

Please help make South Carolina the next state to turn blue: Contribute here today.

Here in South Carolina, we have systematic corruption and yes, some of the same bigotry that Roy Moore represented. I am confident voters in this state are tired of it all… and ready to abandon the policies that have led us backwards for generations.

Virginia and Alabama are just the beginnings of this wave. We will crest it and by next year, restore some degree of dignity back to our state and Federal government.

Thank you for standing with me. Please donate here today.

– Phil

The State: Courting Republicans or trying not to be one? Democrats make the case for SC governor

The self-proclaimed underdog in the Democratic race for S.C. governor pledges not to run the same “dull and boring, Republican-like campaign” that he says Democrats always run. “And they lose.”

The underdog’s big obstacle? A state lawmaker and combat veteran who is the odds-on favorite to win the Democratic nomination. He says he wants to transcend political divisiveness and unify the state: “rural, urban, Democrats and Republicans.”

The two candidates – Charleston business consultant Phil Noble and state Rep. James Smith of Columbia – addressed their party’s most loyal members Friday night at a S.C. Democratic Party gathering in Columbia to kick off their conference weekend.

Speaking briefly during the dinner, both Smith and James harped on a need to root out corruption at the State House.

“I see a South Carolina like she can be and I ask, ‘Why not?’” Smith said, adding, “We all know why. Because we’ve had leaders serving themselves and not South Carolina.”

Noble said he would lead by example, rejecting money from influential political action committees: “If there’s a candidate, Democrat or Republican, who stands up before you and says, ‘I’m concerned about corruption,’ ask him a question, or ask him two: ‘Are you going to take PAC money, or are you going to give it back?’”

Fighting for a prize that has eluded Democrats for two decades – Jim Hodges was the last Democrat to be elected governor, in 1998 – Smith and Noble are laying out different strategies.

Smith, 50, says South Carolinians “want leaders that will rise above the petty politics that are holding us back and focus on the issues that matter and make a difference in our state.

“We need a governor who can bring this state together,” Smith said, adding such a leader will get the entire state involved regardless of place or party.

Noble, 66, says the state’s Democratic candidates for governor lose because they take the same approach in every campaign – a trend he hopes to break.

“The State House guys get together, they pick one of their own – perfectly nice guy, everybody likes him, good legislative record – and then they run a campaign with no bold ideas … a ‘Me, Too’ Republican-lite (campaign) and then they get beat.”

No PAC money

One way Noble says he is unique is in his pledge to reject money from political action committees that allow companies, advocacy groups, trade associations and others to influence the outcome of elections.

Ending PAC contributions is a first step in getting special interest money out of politics, said the former president of the S.C. New Democrats and a failed 1994 lieutenant governor hopeful.

“At the end of the day, I would say nobody should be able to give anybody any money unless they can vote for them,” Noble said.

That standard would bar out-of-state and business contributions, both now legal.

“That ain’t gonna happen,” Noble conceded. “We’re miles away from that. But, as a first step, we need to get away from PACs.”

The political committees allow lobbyists to tell a lawmaker, “We want you to do X, Y, Z for us, and then the PAC money shows up,” Noble said.

Asked whether he, too, will reject contributions from political action committees, Smith did not jump on board with the idea.

“I’m not running against Phil Noble. I’m running for South Carolina. He has his ideas on how to lead the state forward, and I have mine,” Smith said, adding he has “a record to stand on. I certainly stand by my service the last several years and can respond to any question about any donations I’ve received.”

‘Outsider’ or ‘change agent’?

First elected to the S.C. House of Representatives in 1996, Smith has long been on the short list of Democratic Party favorites for governor. The Columbia attorney says taxes, health care and education are his top priorities.

As part of his tax reform proposals, Smith said he wants to create a statewide property tax rate to pay for public education. That would ensure that businesses and owners of second homes in impoverished areas do not shoulder higher tax burdens than elsewhere in the state, as they do now, he said.

An Afghanistan War combat veteran and member of the S.C. Army National Guard, Smith also said he wants to cut the tax bills of military veterans by eliminating the state income tax on their retirement pay.

Veterans “are a powerful workforce and a huge impact on the communities that they become a part of,” said Smith, whose military experience could help him pick up support from moderate Republicans in the pro-military Palmetto State.

Running on an anti-corruption message, Noble said state government can’t fix anything – roads, education or an ongoing nuclear plant fiasco – until new lawmakers, who are not part of the establishment that oversaw those problems, are elected.

Noble said his candidacy gives Democratic voters a choice between an outsider, himself, or someone who is part of the system, Smith.

“James is a good guy. Everybody likes James. The last thing I want is for this thing to be personal,” he said.

“It’s about the system. And James is a part of the system, (has) been a part of the system for 20 years, and, I would argue, has not effectively tackled or changed or challenged the system in the most fundamental areas.”

Noble said those areas include an ongoing State House corruption investigation and the lax regulation of power companies that allowed Cayce-based SCANA and state-owned Santee Cooper to charge their customers more than $2 billion for a now-abandoned nuclear power project.

In response, Smith’s spokesman said, “James Smith is a proven leader, exemplified by his service to his country, state and nation. I would point you to (S.C.) Gov. (Dick) Riley’s endorsement of James, when he said, ‘James is the change agent we need.’ ”

Healthy competition

Neither Noble nor Smith have released details about their fundraising efforts. The next campaign finance reports are due in January.

However, Smith said fundraising has been going well. He has events in Charleston on Wednesday night, more fundraisers coming next week and more offers to host events than the campaign has time to attend.

Smith said he looks forward to speaking about “a shared vision for South Carolina’s future,” he said. “We have this belief, and I know, that we have not realized our potential. Our best days are ahead of us.”

Smith also is shoring up his support among the state’s most well-known Democrats. He has won the endorsements of Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, and former Democratic S.C. Govs. Dick Riley and Hodges, among others.

Noble said he expects Smith to raise and spend the most money in the campaign. But he hopes to give voters something different from what they have gotten in past Democratic candidates.

“I’m not dull, I hope, or boring, I hope. I’m not State House. I’m not lining up all the traditional endorsements, and I’m not getting all the traditional money,” Noble said. “I am going to run a different campaign.”

The competition will be good for the S.C. Democratic Party, said state Chair Trav Robertson.

The campaign to win the party’s June primary will rally activists and ensure the media pays attention to the Democratic debate while the crowded Republican field battles it out.

“It levels the playing field” for the state’s minority party, he said.

By Jamie Self

Read more here.

Press Release: Noble: Too Little, Too Late: Entire Santee Cooper Board Should be Fired, Special Prosecutor Appointed

(Charleston, SC – December 11, 2017) – Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Noble says Governor Henry McMaster is dragging his feet on restoring confidence in Santee Cooper in the wake of a massive scandal that has jeopardized the future capacity of the state’s power grid and cost South Carolinians billions.

“The entire Board needs to go, and a special prosecutor with broad investigatory powers appointed,” Noble said. “Having an ethically-challenged governor investigate a scandal-ridden agency for its role in the biggest corporate crime in state history does not exactly inspire optimism.”

Noble said that corporate officials of SCANA and executives at Santee Cooper should at least return their pay and bonuses since they first found out the V.C. Summer nuclear station project was in trouble. Noble said McMaster’s current feud with Santee Cooper Chairman Leighton Lord is little more than a “hissing contest between the Trump and Bannon wings of the state Republican Party.”

The collapse of the nuclear project resulted in the loss of nearly 6,000 jobs at a cost to customers and taxpayers of at least $9 billion.

Press Release: Democrat Phil Noble Calls for End of PACs To Fight Corruption

Challenges Opponents to Stop Taking Special Interest Money

(Kiawah Island, SC) – Today at the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce’s Gubernatorial Candidate Forum, Democratic candidate Phil Noble called for an end to state political action committees (PACs) and challenged the other candidates to follow his lead.

In his remarks to the Chamber, Noble said, “Two years ago after the Emanuel Nine shooting, the Chamber led the effort to take down the Confederate flag from the statehouse. I’m asking the Chamber to show this same bold leadership today and close their PAC and encourage other business organizations to the do the same.”

Citing the ongoing statehouse corruption scandal, the related nuclear scandal and the millions spent by PACs on political contributions, Noble said, “There is a disease of corruption in the statehouse and it is contagious, infectious and its spreading. PACs are a big part of this corruption and we should end them today.”

Noble said that he was the only candidate, Democrat or Republican who has refused PAC money. “I know that this puts me at a disadvantage in the campaign but a leader should lead and I’m leading on this and I hope that other candidates will follow”, said Noble. “It’s the right thing to do for our state.”

Talking with members of the media after the Forum, Noble outlined two reforms he believes are essential to restoring integrity to the state legislature and the Governor’s office:

  1. No office holder who takes PAC money should be part of any investigation or decision making affecting organizations related to the PAC.
  2. If you take money from a PAC, you should be forced to recuse yourself from any vote that affects the organization affiliated with the PAC.

Noble cited the example of the current statehouse utilities investigation saying, “There are 32 members of the Legislature on committees investigating the utilities scandal and news report show that every one of them took campaign money from utilities. That’s a clear conflict of interest.”