By Paul Gable
Bob Kelly, the loser of the recent Horry County District Three special general election, attempted to set a new low in Horry County politics during the campaign.
Shortly after securing the Republican nomination for the election, Kelly filed papers with the SC Attorney General, Horry County Solicitor and SC Ethics Commission alleging a criminal conspiracy among all of his primary opponents and various other politicos in the county.
According to those papers, Kelly was assisted by his campaign manager Jim Wiles in these attempts to spur investigations.
Kelly told us many times during the campaign that he was a 25 year veteran of law enforcement in New Jersey and, according to Pennsylvania Bar Association postings, Wiles is a suspended former lawyer.
However, the attempt to describe a conspiracy in Kelly’s submission to the above named agencies reads more like a plot line for a new “Dumb and Dumber” sequel.
The alleged conspiracy revolves around robocalls that claimed to be sent by “The Friends of Bob Kelly” during the primary election.
Robocalls to cell phones are illegal by federal statute (although that didn’t seem to stop the Republican presidential candidates from making them during the recent SC primary campaign). Violations of the federal statute come under the investigative purview of the Federal Communications Commission.
Robocalls are not illegal according to any South Carolina statute.
Nevertheless, Kelly asked the Attorney General and Horry County Solicitor to bring a “charge of felony conspiracy with multiple counts … of misdemeanor harassment” against a list of people including all of his Republican primary opponents.
It must be noted that Kelly offered no evidence, other than supposition, that his opponents were involved with the robocalls and his alleged criminal conspiracy.
It’s almost as if Kelly is saying, I had a dream the other night that my opponents were involved in a conspiracy against me. Therefore, they should be charged with criminal conspiracy.
If that is the same standard of evidence Kelly used as a police officer to establish probable cause, it’s a good thing he is retired.
None of Kelly’s allegations were in any way ethics violations as the SC Ethics Commission quickly made clear by dismissing the complaints.
According to the complaint letter, the heart of Kelly’s fantasy conspiracy “was a lie to voters.” “The intention was to deceive the voters and get them to vote contrary to the facts and contrary to their interest. And against me.”
If I interpret that statement correctly, it is saying any vote against Kelly is contrary to the interest of the voters. And people think Donald Trump is the epitome of hubris? Trump has nothing on Bob Kelly’s ego and highly inflated opinion of himself.
Additionally, Kelly’s letter says some of the robocalls alleged different criminal acts by his campaign manager Jim Wiles, including bribery and vote-buying.
I suppose Kelly forgot about a voicemail by Wiles to Owens’ campaign manager Donald Smith in which Wiles asked to set a meeting where inducements in the form of promises to support a list of items generated by Owens could be offered in exchange for Owens dropping out of the primary runoff.
The actual statement in the voicemail included, “… give Kelly a shopping list of what they (Owens and his consultants) want for downtown Myrtle Beach in exchange for Bubba dropping out…”
The Wiles’ voicemail sounds a lot more like a potential criminal act than anything Kelly alleged by his opponents.
According to several sources, Kelly is planning on again running for the District Three seat in the 2016 election cycle. If so, one can only wonder what new levels of stupid Horry County voters will be subjected to.