A “cancerous worm”? That is what an infamous blogger called me back on June 27th, the day I testified before the U.S. House Small Business Committee.
Will Folks, or little “Billy” as they called him in the many high schools he attended, has the most well-read blog in South Carolina, FitsNews.com. But the former spokesman for the disgraced South Carolina “hiking the Appalachian Trail” Mark Sanford achieves his acclaim not because of persuasive public policy commentary or insightful political analysis but rather due to his eagerness to wittily degrade others often based on half-truths or no truth at all.
Get on little Billy’s bad side and he’s relentless. But FitsNews is not just about personal vendettas. It is well-understood that little Billy is a paid hit man for his clients. But his skewering of his targets with embarrassing interpretations of current events or the occasional scoops always makes for good political entertainment.
So why the “cancerous worm” characterization?
A little history might be helpful. The South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce and Governor Sanford rather quickly became adversaries on numerous issues in his first term. Mr. Sanford talked a good small-business game but his administration, including little Billy (whose prior work experience was playing in a local band), was really only interested in talk.
When little Billy left the Sanford administration he, of course, parlayed his insider status into a public relations career and the launching of FitsNews.com. But the notoriously personality-challenged entrepreneur raised his misogynous profile by pleading guilty to physically abusing his then lobbyist girlfriend. Needless to say that when I subsequently contracted with his ex for lobbying services and little Billy was court-ordered to refrain from writing about her or the Small Business Chamber as her employer, his resentment of me and my organization was forever set in stone.
But “cancerous worm”?
In the analogy he applauds Representative Mick Mulvaney for “pinning” me to the table and “dissecting” me following my testimony (I guess to expose my cancerous innards). A little history here is relevant.
I was good friends with Congressman John Spratt, one of South Carolina’s most respected, dedicated and effective public servant the state has produced but who was defeated by Mr. Mulvaney in 2010. I had been honored to have Mr. Spratt on my radio show as a regular guest up until that time. But even before that, Mr. Mulvaney and the Small Business Chamber had locked horns on a state procurement code bill that was intended to help our small businesses receive more of our taxpayer contract dollars. Mr. Mulvaney singlehandedly stopped the legislation in 2008 but failed to do so in 2009—a fact that I informed his would-be constituents of before the 2010 election in an opinion editorial.
So it is understandable that little Billy and Mr. Mulvaney would look for every opportunity to attack me and the Small Business Chamber. However, this time in his enthusiasm to ridicule, little Billy exposed more than his paid-for man-crush on Mr. Mulvaney (he calls him a “rock star”). Very quickly after the completion of the hearing in which Mr. Mulvaney read from prepared questions (not about the issue but about my and the Small Business Chamber’s small business integrity), FitsNews had the blog posted along with a YouTube link to just the 9-minute “testy exchange” between Mr. Mulvaney and me–something only a well scripted plan between FitsNews and Mr. Mulvaney’s office could have achieved.
And characteristically little Billy spins the event misleadingly so he can score his points. He alleges that I was invited to testify by the minority for the purpose of encouraging more funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He then goes on to repeat anti-regulation talking points about the agency.
The truth is that I only knew that I would be testifying two days earlier and had not been directly contacted by Democrats on the Committee or the EPA and certainly was not told what to say. The hearing was on the EPA’s compliance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) in regard to small businesses. The RFA requires federal agencies to review proposed regulations to determine if they will be unnecessarily harmful to small businesses. I qualified to discuss the issue both because of the Small Business Chamber and our experience with a RFA in South Carolina which we helped to pass.
No one, including me, knew what my testimony would be until the day before the hearing. But after reading the testimony of the other presenters, it was clear to me that the problems described in their prepared testimony were most likely due to the lack of resources of the EPA to carry out the RFA mandate properly. Even the U.S. Chamber presenter expressed a need for more resources for the EPA’s efforts to comply with the RFA’s rulemaking process.
Had little Billy read my entire testimony and how I reached my conclusions….oh but that would mean that he actually cared about facts and finding solutions to problems.
You can read here my written testimony that due to a five minute time limit I was unable to fully give orally to the Committee.
You can also watch my testimony and all the questions asked of me by every Committee member including Mr. Mulvaney. Let me know if I look like a “cancerous worm.”