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Justices: Chambers that get tax money aren’t public bodies

May 24, 2018

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — An open government advocate says a South Carolina Supreme Court decision means the public won’t have the right to know how $60 million in taxes are spent.

Justices ruled 4-1 on Wednesday the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce isn’t a public body under the state Freedom of Information Act.

The chamber received nearly $2 million from accommodation taxes last year. Overall, the state collects about $60 million from the 2 percent tax on hotel rooms and gives some of that money to chambers to promote tourism.

The chambers say they already have strong oversight and a ruling against them would mean more red tape.

South Carolina Press Association Executive Director Bill Rogers says the ruling means the money is “going down a rat hole never to be seen again.”

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