Lee Turner: The Finance Expert Running For Trey Gowdy’s Soon To Be Vacated Seat

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Lee Turner at the 2nd Women’s March — January 20th, 2018

Lee Turner is running for Congress in South Carolina’s 4th District. This district is currently represented by Trey Gowdy, a Republican that sits on the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, who recently announced he would not be seeking re-election. Gowdy has had his share of the spotlight during his infamous Benghazi hearings.

Having been a tax professional, entrepreneur, and CFO, Lee Turner was inspired to run for office by the GOP’s latest tax law. She aims to bring her expertise in this field to solve the problems the new tax law will create.

Learn more about Ms. Turner, why she is running, and her policy positions in my interview with her.

The full video of our interview is below, along with a transcript which has been lightly edited for clarity.

Shannon Bearman: Good morning, and welcome.

Turner: Good morning, and thanks for having me.

SB: We are here to talk with you about your run for Trey Gowdy’s vacated seat in District 4, in South Carolina. Let’s get started.

LT: Alright.

SB: What made you decide to run for office?

LT: Well specifically what happened was tax reform, but backing up more generally I knew that I could help make a difference and that I should help make a difference.

SB: Excellent. What expertise would you bring to Congress?

LT: Well, I have a 40-year business background, and I’ve pretty much done it all Soup To Nuts. I’ve been an auditor at PriceWaterhouse. I’ve had several CFO positions.

I’ve been a tax professional. I’ve been an entrepreneur. I have managed health care as part of my CFO positions and done many other things perhaps, too numerous to mention.

SB: The latest tax law that went through is going to have a great impact on future generations, especially when it comes to entitlements. What are your ideas on how to deal with that issue?

LT: Well as I said earlier it was the tax reform that actually got me activated. Most recently I have done tax work for wealthy individuals, and I knew as soon as I heard it, that it was going to be a gift to the uber-wealthy and be detrimental to America.

I didn’t know how big the tax the price tag was going to be until it came out, it was going to be 1.4 trillion dollars. So until we can figure out how to close the loopholes on the corporate end of the spectrum, we’re going to have that large price tag still attached. And that price tag is what endangers all of the other things that we either want to keep or do. We do not want entitlements in danger. We do not want them to be put on the chopping block like so many of the GOP does, but if we don’t do something to moderate the tax reform bill as passed we’re going to be in trouble.

SB: How would you suggest we start to reform our health care system?

LT: Well, health care is something else I learned a fair amount about in my work. And I realized, after I gave it some thought, that I believe what has driven the increase in premiums that we’ve seen and experienced is the way the ACA was structured; in that it kept pre-existing conditions and no lifetime limits in the premium scenario from which the insurance industry will attempt to make their pre-determined bottom-line profit off of. And so what’s going to happen is premiums are going to continue to accelerate as the insurance industry continues to have unknown costs that they cannot forecast.

So my idea was to move those items into the pool which is currently being subsidized by the net investment income tax and have the government manage and pay for out of that pool, those pre-existing conditions and no lifetime limits.

SB: How would you change gun legislation to better protect our nation.

LT: Well everyone is up in arms either on one side of the fence or the other about so-called gun control, and quite frankly I’m not espousing gun control as I am gun safety. Common-sense gun safety. Why do we not have the same type of legislation and licensing rules for a long gun as we do for handguns? Why do we not have the same kind of licensing regulations as we would for operating a vehicle? So there needs to be age limits for purchases of long guns. There needs to be a waiting period. There needs to be training; a test which you must pass. There needs to be re-licensing as time goes on just like you have to renew your driver’s license.

And really just common sense gun safety.

SB: What about your stance on reproductive rights, can you touch on that a little bit?

LT: Well, here again, I think many of us actually want the same thing although we view ourselves on opposite sides of the fence. I think everyone really wants fewer abortions. And the studies have shown in areas where abortions are more readily available, Planned Parenthood facilities are more readily available, birth control is more readily available, and sex education is also, the statistics show that the result is fewer abortions. So I think as long as we try to limit accessibility to those things we will, in fact, have the opposite result, which none of us want.

SB: How about your involvement with your community on immigration reform or your stance on DACA?

LT: Well, in my opinion, the U.S. Government made a contract with the DACA kids that said: “if you will step forward and get yourself vetted, you will be protected.” So we entered into a contract with those kids, and we need to uphold that. And further to the matter, that whole group of immigrants it has been shown they actually contribute to American GDP. They are a bigger benefit to America than they are a detriment.

I think trying to tie a wall to the DACA bill is a mistake. There are many who will say a wall is not needed, that here again the statistics show that the illegal immigrant is much more likely to have flown in on a visitor’s VISA legally and have stayed. In other words, they did not cross the border with Mexico. I’m sure their are areas where we do need additional border security. But we do not need to build an 18 billion dollar wall, and we do not need to tie that wall to a clean DREAM Act.

SB: What do you think the United States can do to enhance the security of our voting processes?

LT: Well, like it or not, I’ve called it going back to the future. We consider paper ballots archaic, but they’re our line of last defense as far as voter reliability. In some cases, people proposed that they be the secondary to the electronic machine, and other factions want to go entirely to a paper ballot. The problem with our voting machines, at least in South Carolina and I would imagine in many parts of the country, they are on their last leg. Most of them came about in 2000 in response to the hanging chad situation, and they need to be updated and replaced. And that’s a huge, huge expense that many states do not or will not make the expenditure for. So now between the issue of hacking and the condition of these machines, it makes perfect sense certainly to do something.

And with the hacking situation, I don’t think we have the option of not doing anything, so at the very least we must have a paper back up to an electronic voting machine so that when we have to do a recount we actually have something to recount instead of just going back through the same set of data that we had to begin with.

SB: Do you think specifically that there’s anything that the Democrats can do to combat gerrymandering and voter suppression?

LT: Well, again, unfortunately, those arenas, gerrymandering and voter suppression, are so controlled state-to-state. Most states you will find that you have what I call the fox guarding the henhouse. Whatever Party is in power is the Party that dictates how redistricting is done after a census. As many of us know, we have a census coming up in 2020, so this is something that’s looming very closely on the horizon. There are several states, I think perhaps as many as five, who have independent voter commissions to do the redistricting.

And I believe that should be the situation in every state. It benefits everyone in the long run because today your party is in power, but tomorrow the other party might be in power. So we need to have something that’s independent and fair. Gerrymandering is even more dangerous now in the digital age because it’s so easy to accomplish digitally versus in the in the old days as it were, it took a lot of work to sit down and crunch all the numbers and come up with things.

SB: When it comes to education reform, which is huge, where would you even begin?

LT: Well, there so many issues there. There’s the issue of lower education, K — 12, and there’s the issue of higher education. Higher education costs have quadrupled the rate of inflation for reasons that do not appear to be apparent because it’s clear that teachers are still underpaid and need to be paid more. Both at the lower end and the higher end. It would help if we had a cabinet head in Washington who was actually in favor of public education and that’s something that would have to be attacked in Washington.

But what I see at the state level that yields such disparity between school districts, is that schools are funded based upon the property tax base in the surrounding neighborhoods. So wealthy neighborhoods tend to have state-of-the-art schools and poor neighborhoods have whatever they can come up with, but more than likely an archaic 1950s, 1960s facility with little in the way of digital help and that sort of thing. So there are many areas to attack it on both at the state-level and the federal level. And we can create jobs all day long, but if we don’t educate our children to be able to fill those jobs, we haven’t accomplished anything.

SB: Well that concludes the questions that I had for you. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

LT: Well, I would like to say something about donations to various candidates. Whether we like it or not it takes big money to get elected. Now, we can change those rules, but we have to get there first. What we have now is big donors/owners who control too much of the political process, tell us too much how to think and what to think. And until we can get elections that are actually funded by the people, we’re not going to have the candidates elected who will represent the people. So I would say if you know of a good candidate out, there regardless of if they live in your district or not, support them and encourage all your like-minded friends to do the same.

SB: Excellent, thank you so much again for taking the time to talk to us.

LT: And thanks so much for having me, Shannon. I appreciate it

SB: Take care.

LT: Alright.

Interview // Democratic Party / Elections / Finance / Politics