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South Carolina millionaire, citizen watchdog dies at age 91

Edward “Ned” Sloan Jr., a millionaire businessman who fought in South Carolina courts for years for the rights of citizens to learn what state and local public officials did with power and taxpayers’ money, has died at 91.

GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) –

A Citadel graduate and longtime Greenville businessman, Sloan’s passion for holding officials accountable led him to hire a lawyer and set up a foundation that filed lawsuits to pierce veils of government secrecy erected by some of the state’s most powerful public officials.

Often using the S.C. Freedom of Information Act, Sloan’s lawsuits – which he frequently but not always won – shone light into government’s darkest corners, exposing slush funds, secret government spending on politicians’ pet projects and questionable uses of power at local and state levels.

Sloan’s targets included current S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson, who recently awarded a questionable $75 million fee to his old law firm for purported legal work, and former Senate President Pro Tem Sen. Glenn McConnell, R-Charleston, who used his power to secretly steer millions in taxpayer money and government services to his pet project, the restoration of once sunken Confederate submarine, the Hunley.

At the time of his death, on Oct. 27, Sloan was mounting a legal challenge to Clemson University’s practice of giving lifetime appointments to certain members of its board of trustees.

“We lost a warrior,” said Joe Taylor, chairman of Sloan’s S.C. Public Interest Foundation, a former S.C. Department of Commerce secretary and Columbia investor.

“He had an amazing ability to see the difference between right and wrong, and he was a champion of the little guy,” Taylor said. “He had a sense of responsibility to make sure everybody played by the rules, because when you play by the rules, good things happen.”

Jay Bender, South Carolina’s foremost FOI lawyer, said, “Ned was a hero. He was a guy who believed in open government and backed his beliefs with his wallet.”

“Fortunately, he had the resources and a great lawyer in Jim Carpenter. They did a wonderful job in bringing public bodies to heel,” Bender said.

Carpenter, the Greenville lawyer who did most of Sloan’s legal work,…

JOHN MONK, The State

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