By Paul Gable
Bob Kelly and his consultant Jim Wiles have so little respect for Horry County voters they offered opponent Bubba Owens a bribe to quit the runoff election.
The runoff election for the Republican nomination for the vacant Horry County Council District 3 seat is set for November 17, 2015.
However, Kelly and his henchmen seem to want to avoid that by bringing Northeast big city machine politics to Horry County in the form of a bribe for Owens to quit the race.
If you question the use of the word bribe, its definition in The Free Dictionary is “Something offered to induce another to do something.” Merriam Webster dictionary states, “Something that serves to induce or influence.”
A November 6, 2015 voicemail message from Wiles to Owens’ campaign consultant said, “Team Bubba should put together a shopping list of stuff that they would want for downtown Myrtle Beach for Bob Kelly to commit to in exchange for Bubba dropping out…”
Click below to listen to the entire voicemail message:
In the Wiles voicemail, none of the three people mentioned as being carried the message have anything to do with the Bubba Owens campaign or any ability to get Owens to drop out of the race. This demonstrates the muddled thinking (or lack of any thinking) in the Kelly campaign.
South Carolina Code of Laws Section 7-25-200 states it is unlawful to offer anything of value to induce a person to withdraw as a candidate.
The only question here is whether a court would view the offer, ‘give Kelly a shopping list of what they (Owens and his consultants) want for downtown Myrtle Beach in exchange for Bubba dropping out,’ as a criminal act. An attorney who listened to the message said it certainly goes right up to that line, if it does not, in fact, cross it.
We’ll leave that decision to the solicitors and federal prosecutors. But, the message certainly violates the spirit of the law if not the actual letter of the law while looking to cut the voters out of the election process.
In addition to the inducement to quit the runoff election, another criminal consideration is that Kelly’s team is offering to commit public dollars to proposed projects for the personal gain for Kelly of Owens dropping out of the election.
Also, the attempt to get Owens to quit the election demonstrates complete ignorance on the part of Kelly and Wiles with respect to local jurisdictions.
They don’t understand the layering of government!
They don’t understand the delineation of tasks between city and county government!
They don’t understand state election law!
Downtown Myrtle Beach is under the jurisdiction of the City of Myrtle Beach. Bob Kelly can make all the promises he wants, but Myrtle Beach city council makes those decisions not Horry County Council. Is he running for the wrong council?
Maybe totally misunderstanding local government will save Kelly and Wiles from criminal charges because committing to promises of things they have no ability to affect may let them slip by.
As for state election law, in addition to violating the inducement provision and possible personal gain from public funds, neither Kelly nor Wiles understand getting Owens to drop out of the election does not end the electoral process.
In South Carolina a candidate must garner 50 percent plus one of the total vote to win a primary election. Kelly has not done that.
If Owens were to drop out, Ethan Leyshon, the third place finisher, would go on the ballot. If both Owens and Leyshon drop out, Keith Van Winkle would go on the ballot.
There is neither enough time nor enough promises to get all three of these candidates to drop out of the primary runoff.
A quote from Wiles on the South Carolina Politics Facebook page regarding the November 3rd primary election reads:
“… we need to choose the strongest, cleanest, most credible possible Republican candidate. And, on that, there’s no question. Inform yourself and you’ll know that the only choice is Bob Kelly.”
Only a few days after that quote, Wiles and his ‘cleanest candidate’ were working to rig the election by attempting to bribe Owens with the possible expenditure of public funds to drop out of the race.
When the story began to be picked up by media outlets, Wiles and Kelly changed their stories.
In a WMBF news piece that broke the story at 11 p.m. last night, Wiles said he had been “talking with members of Bubba Owens campaign about the potential of him (Owens) dropping out (of the election).” In an on camera interview, Wiles said this was a perfectly normal thing to do. and that the message was about working together if Kelly won the runoff.
Both statements are lies!
Wiles clearly states that he wants a shopping list from Owens “in exchange for Bubba dropping out.” There’s no way to spin that other than the Kelly campaign was attempting to entice (bribe) Owens to quit the race.
As Owens stated in the same story, no one on his campaign team has ever responded to Wiles’ initial November 6th request for a meeting.
To reiterate what was stated above, Owens dropping out of the election would not halt a primary runoff, demonstrating Wiles and Kelly’s complete lack of understanding of state election law.
Kelly would not appear on camera, but reportedly denied knowledge of the Wiles call to the Owens camp to attempt to get Owens to drop out of the election.
Kelly seems to have the same problem with the truth as his campaign operative.
Wiles initial call said Kelly would be carrying the message (attempting to get Owens to withdraw) to a known community leader in the south end of Myrtle Beach, who, ironically, is not a part of the Owens campaign team.
Even worse for Kelly’s problems with the truth is an email sent by Wiles to Smith yesterday. In it, Wiles clearly states, “…your client (Owens) told Bob Kelly last evening that we should first speak with you about the possibility of Bubba withdrawing.”
And the point of Kelly’s knowledge of Wiles’ attempts is driven home later in the email, “I also informed you yesterday (Monday) that Bob was going to call Bubba before he did so. Kelly called Owens Monday and Owens refused to talk to him referring Kelly to Smith. Hence the email message.
Click to view the email: wiles to smith email
What we have is Wiles and Kelly, or “dumb and dumber” as they are now being called by politicos in the county, having no knowledge of state election law but trying to find a way around a runoff election next week. In doing so, they may have stepped over the line of criminal activity.
When the story goes public and they are confronted by their actions, clumsy attempts to spin the story lead to one lie after another.
And, it’s not done yet. The Sun News will have a story online this morning and in their print edition Thursday with probably different spin told to that reporter.
These two carpetbaggers came to Horry County and got together to run an election. They want to ignore the voters, they want to skip the election process and they ignore state election law.
In short, they want to do it just the way they do it up North!….Hey Bob, the voters down here don’t care how you do it up North!