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      Democrats criticize using state plane for hearing

      Rep. Bill Chumley of Woodruff said he sponsored Walter Williams' flight Wednesday from the Washington area to speak before a Judiciary subcommittee.

      COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH/AP) -- South Carolina Democrats are criticizing a Republican lawmaker's decision to fly a conservative columnist and radio commentator on the state plane to Columbia to testify against the federal health care law.

      Rep. Bill Chumley of Woodruff said he sponsored Walter Williams' flight Wednesday from the Washington area to speak before a Judiciary subcommittee. Williams is a George Mason University professor who advocates state measures attempting to nullify the federal law.

      Democratic Rep. James Smith calls it the height of hypocrisy to frivolously spend taxpayers' money to bring the activist.

      "I'm concerned that both of these individuals received some sort of componsation to influence the state house but neither of them are gonna register as lobbyists and that violates our ethics laws," said Smith.

      Chumley says Williams served as an expert witness, so his testimony was official state business.

      State law allows officers and legislators to use the planes at no cost on a first-come, first-served basis, as long as the trips are official business.

      (The Associated Press contributed to this report.)