Like a seasoned NASCAR veteran, Bob Walker of Spartanburg knows that a checkered flag and a first place finish on Sunday isn’t the key to real success. In order to really win -both personally and professionally- you need to be a master of product placement.
In NASCAR this takes the form of drinking milk or Pepsi on camera during an interview, and covering every inch of your car with brand logos. The more a driver wins races, and gets the product on television, the more the sponsor is willing to pay him for the advertising he provides.
With Walker, corporate sponsorship is for more than free air time, it is pay-to-play politics. Big companies, most based far outside his Spartanburg district, channel thousands of dollars to Walker in the form of direct hard money contributions toward his reelection. On the chamber floor, he “places” their products by drafting, introducing, and carrying legislation that rewards them with huge contracts, subsidies, and preferential regulations.
A dramatic example of this is his close connection with Data Recognition Corporation (DRC), a Minnesota-based testing company that has made millions of the dollars selling and reselling South Carolina the PACT test. Walker took DRC money both directly (a hard money donation) and through a leadership PAC (a soft money donation) and then introduced a bill that would have virtually assured DRC an enormous contract to replace PACT.
Walker’s most recent contributors list reads like an appendix to the major bills he has sponsored:
Medical and Pharmaceutical (H.4628); Sumter Medical Supplies $1,000; Takeda Pharmaceuticals $1,000; Beam Pharmacy $1,000; Blue Cross/Blue Shield $1,000; Timmonsville Drug Inc $500
Automobile and Insurance (H. 4622); State Farm AAP $1,000; Friends of the Farm Bureau PAC $1,000; Property and Casualty Insurance $500; Braddy Insurance $100
Telecommunications (H.4428); AT&T SC PAC $750; Verizon Communications SC PAC $250
So, does Bob Walker represent the people, or corporate interests? You decide.