It’s anybody’s guess as to exactly why South Carolina has elected its top military official, the adjutant general, but voters have an opportunity to fix that unsettling situation with “yes” votes on a constitutional amendment referendum in the Nov. 4 general election. The Amendment 2 question on the ballot is verbose at 160-plus words, but it boils down to this: Approval will bring appointment of the adjutant general and the General Assembly will set the term, duties, compensation and qualifications for the office.
Appointment instead of election would begin in 2018 and the appointment would be with the consent of the state Senate. The current adjutant general, Bob Livingston, is on the ballot unopposed for re-election, so the state is virtually assured of having for the next four years a highly qualified professional military person overseeing S.C.’s Military Department including 11,000 people in the Army National Guard, Air National Guard, State Guard and the Emergency Management Division.
Livingston is an Army major general and it’s significant that he worked to win General Assembly approval of the constitutional amendment referendum going on the ballot. The fact is that the state has been well-served by its elected adjutant generals, but as Cindi Ross Scoppe noted in an Oct. 15 article, it’s unsettling that Gen. Livingston was opposed in the Republican primary by “a junior officer in the Army Reserves who was on probation from stalking charges.”
Approval of Amendment 2 will require the General Assembly to establish procedures for the adjutant general to be appointed from military officers qualified and eligible. Another unsettling – and frankly unseemly – aspect of electing the adjutant general is the process itself. As Scoppe points out, adjutant generals have to raise money to campaign and “the only people who have any motivation to donate are those whose promotions the generals decide....” This places professional persons in an improper position and perhaps is one of the reasons all other states appoint their adjutant generals.
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South Carolina has other elective officers that really should be appointive but they are not part of Amendment 2. There is no viable argument for continuing to elect the adjutant general and several good reasons supporting a yes vote. South Carolina needs this change.
Speaking of referendums, the Nov. 4 ballot also has a question for voters pertaining to Section 7 of the S.C. constitution which by some strict interpretations considers a raffle to be a lottery. Countless civic and charitable organizations use raffles to raise money for many worthy causes. And legal opinions, including those in Georgetown and Horry counties, have held that buying raffle tickets amounts to making a contribution.
Here is the official explanation for Amendment 1: “A Yes vote will allow certain nonprofit organizations to conduct raffles and use the proceeds for charitable, religious, or educational purposes.”
It’s eleemosynary, Dear Watson. That old-fashioned word appears twice in the Amendment 1 wording and it simply means “of or for charity.”