SC House Ad Hoc Committee Begins Hearings on Judicial Reform

The new House Ad Hoc Committee to Examine the Judicial Selection and Retention Process in South Carolina began hearings earlier this month.
The committee was formed because of the increasing calls from citizens, prosecutors and law enforcement personnel from around the state that judicial reform should be a priority in the coming legislative year.
South Carolina is one of two states (Virginia is the other), where judges are elected by the legislature. The Judicial Merit Selection Commission was a key component of the inquiry by the ad hoc committee at its second hearing of the month.
SC Attorney General Wilson was asked by a member of the committee if he thought it was possible that undue influence was put on judges by lawyer/legislators who are members of the JMSC or the larger General Assembly as a whole. Wilson answered, “Yes.”
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Myra Starnes Brings a Wealth of Experience to Myrtle Beach City Council Race

Myra Starnes is a unique candidate in the Myrtle Beach election for city council. For over 50 years, Starnes has been a business owner and entrepreneur in the hospitality industry.
When she started her first business, Leisure Time Unlimited, Myrtle Beach was a summer tourist city. After Labor Day, the streets basically emptied until the next Easter weekend.
“I felt we had to do things to get people here in the offseason,” said Starnes.
Starnes started running bus tours in the fall for retirees who wanted to spend a few days at the beach while the weather remained good but without summer crowds. Those tours helped the business community stretch the tourist season for another several months.
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Three Aynor Council Candidates Pledge More Government Transparency

Three candidates for Aynor Town Council, in Tuesday’s upcoming town elections, pledged more transparency to the citizens on town issues if they are elected.
Paula Creel Floyd is running in the special election for the unexpired term open on town council. Her opponent is Benjamin Jordan.
Landon Johnson and Lori Beatty are running for the two full term seats currently held by Steve Riggins and Chris Shelley. Riggins and Shelley are running for reelection with Nolan Thompson also in the candidate mix.
Floyd said she is surprised to see the lack of accountability and transparency in the town council. She is running on a platform of accountability and transparency in local government and supporting local businesses.
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Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy Ignoring Attacks and Taking High Road to Election Day

Throughout her campaign for reelection, Conway Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy has been subjected to name calling, accusations and hate messaging as an ad this week by her campaign committee stated.
Through it all Blain-Bellamy has taken the “high road”, choosing to speak about the issues that affect Conway voters rather than engaging in mud-slinging in return.
Blain-Bellamy is out meeting voters personally this week rather than spending $40,300, as her opponent has done, to hire door knockers to attempt to gain votes.
Meanwhile, a blog supporting her opponent published a bogus article claiming an ethics complaint was officially filed against Blain-Bellamy on November 1st for mistakes she made on campaign disclosure filings. Mistakes do not rise to the level of an ethics violation but that didn’t stop the mud-slinging.
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Hate Messaging and the Richardson Campaign

Give the voters something to hate, then, tell them who is responsible. This appears to be the strategy of the Ken for Mayor campaign in Conway.
It has been a two-tier strategy. Since his campaign announcement, Richardson has stated “Conway is at a Crossroads” and “Take Conway Back” as keynotes of his message.
Richardson’s supporting minions have shared hate filled messages and name calling aimed at incumbent Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy.
At its core is the Pride Month proclamation signed by Mayor Blain-Bellamy in June and the giving of the Key to the City by Blain-Bellamy to Pete Buttigieg in 2020. Trying to stir up hatred against Blain-Bellamy for those two acts is apparently the campaign’s mission.
Richardson said in the recent mayoral debate he used to talk to his grandchildren about “transformers”, now the talk is about “transgender” and he doesn’t want to see “Conway become San Francisco”. The allusions are clear.
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The Veil is Lifted on Richardson Campaign Expenditures

The Ken Richardson campaign for mayor of Conway finally filed its pre-election campaign disclosure report with the S. C. Ethics Commission late at night on October 26, 2023, four days late.
Earlier in the day of October 26, 2023, Grand Strand Daily published a story which posed the question, “Is there some required information about donations and/or expenditures that the campaign did not want to make public before last night’s mayoral debate at Coastal Carolina University?”
After viewing the pre-election report filing, it seems that question was directly on-point.
When people donate money to a candidate, there is some expectation the candidate will be a good steward of the money donated and money will be spent in the local economy, if at all possible.
Richardson followed these principles in his previous campaigns for school board chairman and for Congress. He publicly pledged that campaign expenditures would be made within the county in the school board race and within the 7th Congressional District in his race for Congress. He challenged opponents to do the same.
Those principles and promises have been cast to the wayside in this election by the Richardson campaign.
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What is the Ken for Mayor Campaign Hiding?

Several days have passed since the Ken Richardson campaign missed the required deadline for filing a pre-election campaign disclosure report with the South Carolina Ethics Commission and, as of this writing, there is still no public record of the report on the commission website.
Is there some required information about donations and/or expenditures that the campaign did not want to make public before last night’s mayoral debate at Coastal Carolina University? Will the failure to file run past election day November 7th for that same reason?
Daily fines for missing the deadline are minimal. It only costs a relatively few bucks to keep the information hidden for several weeks.
Speaking of keeping information hidden, the livestream of the debate provided by the university aired without sound. Fortunately, WMBF News also carried a livestream, with sound, of the event. Hopefully, the WMBF livestream will be made available for public viewing until election day so the many voters who were not able to attend in person can view the debate.
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Conway Mayoral Debate Could Bring Enlightening Answers for Voters

The two candidates for Conway mayor, incumbent Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy and challenger Ken Richardson, will square off in a live debate from Coastal Carolina University’s Johnson Auditorium tonight beginning at 6 p.m.
With a limited capacity of 210 at the auditorium, the debate will be livestreamed so the many Conway voters who cannot get a ticket for the event will be able to see the two candidates answer questions from moderator Dr. Drew Kurlowski, an Associate Professor of Political Science at CCU. A link to the livestream broadcast is provided at the end of this story.
An advance outline of the debate said questions will focus on four areas: issues of concern to Conway residents, Issues of economic concern, a focus on tourism and visitors and personal leadership qualifications of the two candidates.
Since the campaign began, Grand Strand Daily has noted the lack of discussion, from the Richardson campaign, about specific issues of concern regarding Conway other than criticism about the Pride Month proclamation signed by Mayor Blain-Bellamy in June. Maybe tonight’s debate will provide answers as to why Richardson is running other than opposition to recognition of the LGBTQ community.
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Richardson Campaign Misses Campaign Disclosure Report Deadline

According to South Carolina state Ethics Law, a candidate for state or local office is required to file a campaign disclosure report within 10 days after $500 is raised or spent by the campaign. After the initial filing, the candidate must file quarterly reports to the S. C. Ethics Commission.
Campaign disclosure reports are public records of campaign finances, donations and expenses, which allow the public to view how much and from whom a candidate receives donations and how much and to whom campaign expenditures are made. The reports are designed to provide voters with a transparent view of a candidate’s campaign financing.
A pre-election disclosure report is required to be filed 15 days prior to election day. A quarterly report may be combined with the pre-election report if the quarter ends within 30 days of the date on which the pre-election report is required.
The date for filing a pre-election report for the upcoming November 7, 2023, election for Conway city offices was yesterday, October 23, 2023, according to the Ethics Commission.
One candidate, Ken Richardson who is challenging Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy, failed to file a pre-election campaign disclosure report by yesterday’s required deadline.
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Richardson Campaign, Word Salad with a Slight Twist

It took a while for the Richardson campaign to come out of the closet, but last week’s chapter of its full-page ads provided a glimpse of what it is really about.
“Is the current mayor of Conway really a liberal,” the ad asks. And, “Ken Richardson for Mayor, a strong conservative.” The old classic “traditional American values” was thrown in for good measure.
The Richardson for Mayor campaign really has no local issues to address other than Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy signing a proclamation declaring Pride Month in Conway and giving the key to the city to Pete Buttigieg three years ago.
This is the old trick which has been part of the national level political playbook since the 1970’s. If you have nothing to say for yourself, attack the opponent. Give voters something to be afraid of and tell them the current mayor is to blame for it.
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