Sunday, April 9, 2017

Senator Setzler's bill is an insult to South Carolinians

"The idea is the public should know who is paying their part-time legislators so they can judge whether their pay from other sources presents any potential conflicts." - 1/9/2017 article re corruption in the SC legislature.

Wednesday a week ago (3/29/2017), there musta been quite a ruckus going on behind the scenes while I was protesting in front of Williams, Stitely, and Brink's law firm. They are not happy with my presence, and afterwards, when I checked my emails, there was word from Senator Setzler' office manager, Alisa Painter, that Setzler had introduced a bill and wanted me to have a copy of it.

Read more here: musta been quite a ruckus going on behind the scenes last Wednesday while I was protesting in front of Williams, Stitely, and Brink's law firm in downtown Lexington. The firm is not happy with my presence, and afterwards, when I checked my emails, there was word from Senator Setzler's office manager that he had introduced a bill and wanted me to have a copy of it.

What a "coincidence." And what an insult Setzler's bill is to the people of South Carolina. Talk about gall...


Now - in the face of negative public exposure and with the current legislative session more than half over - he suddenly introduces a watered-down bill (See S. 589) (word for word, the exact same hogwash as Kenny Bingham's bill last year) to give probate courts authority to decide when to apply the 10 year limit on wills. Fact is, there's no excuse for having time limits on wills. Many other states don't have time limits, South Carolina didn't prior to 1986, and I replied accordingly to Setzler's office manager, urging an overall simplification in the probate process.

In 1986, what was Senator Setzler's role in adding those attorney-serving complexities to the probate code, and did he make any efforts to notify the taxpaying public of what was going on? In 1986, his probate-dealing law firm - established in 1977, the first year he served as a senator - had been in business for 10 years, which brings up another "coincidence" in Tricky Nikki's sudden decision to introduce his current "probate bill."

This year, for the first time ever, South Carolina lawmakers had to disclose private sources of income. Tricky Nikki introduced his watered-down probate bill just one day before he was exposed in this article revealing lawmakers' private sources of income. It's now a matter of public record: Senator Setzler derives private income from his probate-dealing law firm, and it's anyone's guess how much money the good ol' boy has stashed away over the past three decades due to those attorney-serving complexities added to the probate code.

Why hasn't local mainstream media investigated Tricky Nikki's decades-long conflict of interest? How fortunate for "lawmakers" like Setzler that the required disclosure of sources of private income was postponed until after the election.

I suppose probate-attorney Setzler somehow "forgot" to send out press releases regarding his current bill, an effort which is no doubt destined to quietly die - as did Bingham's bill - in Committee. Even if it passed, a deadline was crossed last week, and Setzler's watered-down bill could not become law until 2018.

Who does Senator Setzler think he's fooling with this probate bill? Tricky Nikki epitomizes the conflicts of interest that have made governments unresponsive to people's needs. It's way past time for the legislative gang to quit exploiting the probate process for the personal gain of probate attorneys in general, and probate-dealing attorney-legislators in particular.

On 3/29/2017, when I replied to Alisa Painter's email, I got a weirdly-worded (apparently fake) Mailer-Daemon message, which led me to think Ms. Painter's email wasn't authentic. Had I not taken time to investigate, I wouldn't have been aware of Senator Setzler's bill, just like I wasn't aware of Kenny Bingham's bill (see 6/3/2016 update) last year until after it had been submitted for over a week. I tried to forward my original reply to Ms. Painter, but it wasn't clear if she received that either. On 4/2/2017, I tried a third time, and on 4/4/2017, I received confirmation from Ms. Painter that she had received my reply and would make Senator Setzler aware of it. As was the case last year, it looks like someone is intent on keeping things quiet regarding time limits on wills. 

What YOU can do:

>  Spread the word about the probate/trust racket. Most folks don't find out about the attorney-generated horrors of probate until they are struggling through the bereavement process, and shock value is a key part of the effort to browbeat people into hiring a probate attorney.

>  If you need help with non-probate matters, avoid using attorneys who advertise that they specialize in probate. Many attorneys refuse to get involved in the probate racket, and one of them told me with a wink, "It's a 'highly specialized' area of law."

>  Refuse to be bullied by the attorney-generated horrors of probate into paying attorneys to set up trusts. Probate is financed with tax dollars, and should be an inexpensive, viable alternative to setting up trusts. Executors (now called Personal Representatives) shouldn't need a law degree to probate an inheritance.

>  Cut costs by downloading your own estate documents - especially wills - from the Internet. Paying probate attorneys outlandish fees to "draw up a will" is risky business, because attorney-legislators have a vested interest in nullifying wills.

>  Last - and what certainly shouldn't be least (but probably is) - send "your representatives" an email expressing your sentiments about the probate/trust racket.

6/13/2017 update - protested for an hour, downtown Lexington, front of Williams, Stitely, and Brink law firm  THANKS AGAIN to the many motorists who signaled support. I've heard no more - didn't expect to - regarding Senator Setzler's bill. Apparently, the bill never made it out of committee.

5/19/2017 update - protested front of the State House for an hour. Here's another round of thanks to everyone who shows support and visits this blog. WIS-10 "news" drove by again - depend on 'em to keep quiet about the probate racket.

5/16/2017 update - another hour of protest in front of the State House, another GREAT response even with relatively light traffic. MANY THANKS to all who expressed support and visited this blog.

5/11/2017 update - protested for one hour in front of the State House. Light traffic but still a SUPERB response from motorists. MANY THANKS to all those who signaled support and took photos.

5/3/2017 update - protested the probate racket for 3 hours in front of the Williams, Stitely, and Brink law firm. MANY shows of support (they seem to be increasing), and total blog visits have now topped 7,000. A MILLION THANKS TO ALL. WIS-10 drove by and again ignored an issue that should have made headlines years ago.

4/29/2017 update - Is anyone surprised that a jerk like Setzler favors a gas tax? What a sick joke when the senator - a conniving, career politician with a conflict of interest regarding probate laws - has the unmitigated gall to blabber that "he was elected by the people to do what he thinks is right." Wonder if "the people" would have elected Tricky Nikki if "news" organizations like WIS-10 hadn't covered up his decades-long conflict of interest. Here's an honest look at the gas tax issue.

4/26/2017 update - protested in front of my "favorite" law firm - Williams, Stitely, and Brink - for 3.5 hrs. New time frame gimme an even BETTER response than I've come to expect. MANY thanks to the MANY motorists who signaled support and took photos.

4/20/2017 update - Protested in front of the Williams, Stitely, and Brink law firm for 2 hrs - another round of SUPER encouragement from motorists. MANY THANKS to all who signaled support. If you know someone in another county who's fed up with SC's probate racket, send 'em a link to this blog.

4/17/2017 update - Protested for 2 hrs,  front of Williams, Stitely, and Brink's law firm. Another great response from motorists - a million thanks to all. Mainstream media is trying to keep news of SC's probate racket quiet. Please spread the word about what's going on. 

4/15/2017 update - Tricky Nikki, aka Senator Setzler, has again gone silent re substantial efforts to clean up South Carolina's probate racket.

4/13/2017 update - MANY THANKS to everyone who's helping to expose what's going on.

4/12/2017 updates - 
>  Protested 2 hrs, front of Williams, Stitely, and Brink's law firm. THANKS EVER SO MUCH TO THE MANY MOTORISTS who signaled support. Wunna WIS-10's vehicles passed by, kept right on going. South Carolina's "News Leader" is an expert at filtering out the news people need to know.  
>  Tweeted a link to this post to Gov. McMaster.

4/10/2017 updates - 
>  Protested in front of Williams, Stitely, and Brink's law firm for 3 hours. SUPER response from motorists, MANY THANKS to all who signaled support. BLOG VISITS CONTINUE TO INCREASE. SPREAD THE WORD - IT'S WORKING. 
>  My pleasure to send Senator Setzler a link to this post via Twitter, Alisa Painter, and SC Legislature Online.