Billionaire Tom Steyer is facing some criticism over his spending in South Carolina, a state where his Democratic presidential campaign is making some legitimate headway.
Some people have even accused him of trying to buy votes from the state's African-American voters, which Steyer and many others have adamantly denied, The New York Times reports. One thing that's been particularly scrutinized is the Steyer campaign's rental agreement with a company owned by Jennifer Clyburn Reed, the daughter of Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), the highest-ranking African American in Congress whose endorsement is considered key in South Carolina. Since October, the Steyer campaign has paid more than $40,000 to the company to rent one of its properties as its state headquarters in Columbia, South Carolina. A California-based bank founded by Steyer, meanwhile, has loaned $1 million to a Columbia-based bank that has one of Clyburn's sons-in-laws on its board.
The campaign has brushed off the accusations of trying to procure political favor from the Clyburn family, arguing Steyer is simply committed to hiring local organizers and investing in local businesses to get his grassroots operations running. "The question isn't why Tom is doing this," Steyer spokesman Benjamin Gerdes said in a statement. "The real question is why isn't every other candidate doing it?"
The politically-active Reed called the accusations of vote-buying "disturbing" and seemed a bit annoyed that people think she merely serves as a surrogate for her father. "I'm an adult," she told the Times. "There is no connection. My father has his business and I have mine. We do not vote the same way."
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