Mad Scientists of the Laboratories of Democracy: Rep. Kris Crawford Edition
Meet Kris Crawford, a Republican representative in the South Carolina State House, an emergency room doc, a convicted tax evader and political pragmatist of the confederate persuasion. That’s him in the mugshot which was taken at his graduation from the South Carolina School of Political Hard Knocks [more about that, later].
Rep Kris Crawford (R- Land o’ Cotton) recently covered himself with glory when it came time to consider South Carolina’s decision to expand their Medicaid program, under the Affordable Care Act. Now, Kris Crawford knew a little bit more about the subject than most of his colleagues because he is a practicing physician.
He knows, for example, that, in South Carolina, a child must be living below 200% of the poverty level [$24,650 for a family of three] to qualify for Medicaid coverage. A pregnant woman must be living at 185% below that level and the elderly, blind or disabled below 100% of the limit.
Conversely, under the ACA, states can expand coverage to anyone at or below 138% of the national poverty level. The cost to the state? $0, until 2020, when the states will have to pick up 10% of the program’s cost, while the federal government picks up the other 90%—forever.
Kris Crawford also knows that his state ranked 46 among the 50 states in overall population health rankings. He knows how much good might come from expanding South Carolina’s Medicaid program. And that is why, at the end of January, 2013, Kris Crawford joined 75 doctors from across his state, in what they called “White Coat Day,” to lobby his fellow legislators to expand Medicaid eligibility under ACA.
Dr. Kris Crawford supported expanding Medicaid—Rep. Kris Crawford, not so much:
The politics are going to overwhelm the policy. It is good politics to oppose the black guy in the White House right now, especially for the Republican Party.
Now I’m pretty sure that Kris Crawford would not describe himself as a racist. I would hope that Dr. Kris is colorblind when it comes to treating ER patients so, in those interpersonal, face-to-face interactions, Dr Kris does not practice bigotry.
But, obviously, when it comes down to a decision between good policy or good politics, Rep. Kris Crawford knows who punches his ticket, sweetens his coffee, butters his bread, etc.
And, so it is that when, six weeks later, the Palmetto State legislature sat down to weigh the merits of expanding state Medicaid, under the Affordable Care Act, to insure 500,000 currently uninsured South Carolinians, or stick it to “the black guy in the White House,” Rep. Crawford joined the rest of his Republican cronies in a vote for “good politics.”
And a vote for the institutional racism that still has this country by the short hairs. Kris Crawford knew what the right thing was for the people that he represents, the people that he treats as a physician. He had an opportunity to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of South Carolinians but he chose, instead, to stand shoulder to shoulder with retrogressive racists so that he can continue to stand with them and reap the benefits accruing to white men in the South.
Kris Crawford is a coward and should not be representing anyone, anywhere in government because he clearly has only his own personal interest at heart. You see, Kris Crawford has been schooled, in a pretty specatcular way, in political expediency. Crawford came to state government with all the boxes checked for political success. He had the right assets, the right education—Citadel and USC—all the right professional and political connections.
But somewhere along the way, Kris Crawford got a little too big for his britches and decided to mount a primary sneak attack on one of South Carolina’s most powerful career pols—Sen. Hugh Leatherman—who had thirty years of political capitol stored up. A local reporter on SC politics, Will Folks, describes Leatherman as South Carolina’s “Godfather of Pork” “and one of the most corrupt public officials to ever hold office in South Carolina.” Leatherman is also the powerful chair of the State Senate Finance Committee.
And the rest, as they say, is history . . .
Back in 2010, a story was leaked by the SC State Department of Revenue that Crawford faced four misdemeanor counts for allegedly failing to file tax returns in a timely manner from 2004-07. Crawford, of course, stated that:
. . . his tax issues stem from an error made by his former accountant, that all “necessary documents have been filed” and that his state taxes have been “paid in full.
What happened to Crawford is described by one of his legislative colleagues as “lawmaker on lawmaker violence.”
The lawmaker declined to name the State Senator allegedly targeting Crawford, but added that “it’s no coincidence this (story) is breaking during filing,” referring to the two-week period during which candidates must file for State House and statewide elections – a period which ends on Tuesday.
Eventually a trial was held and the judge ultimately declared a mistrial – but S.C.‘s Republican Attorney General Alan Wilson’s office chose to continue prosecuting the case. [Atty. Gen Wilson just happens to be the adopted son of Rep. Joe “You Lie” Wilson]. Meanwhile, despite his legal problems, Crawford easily won a fourth term in the SC State House.
In the end, Crawford was retried, found guilty on all four counts and fined $10,000 but no jail time. At the time of the judgment, there was some question about whether Crawford could continue to serve in the State House. But, obviously, he’s still there . . .
The important thing is, it would appear that Rep. Kris Crawford has learned his lesson and that when decisions between “good policy” or “good politics” arise, we can be pretty sure how Kris Crawford will vote.
He’ll vote on the side of the “good old boys” despite any oaths he might have taken to “do no harm” . . .