Politics

Dynamics Emerging in the 7th Congressional District Republican Race

Interesting dynamics are beginning to emerge in the race for next year’s Republican nomination in S. C. 7th Congressional District.
Second quarter campaign finance data shows incumbent Tom Rice leading in money raising with Graham Allen, Ken Richardson and Barbara Arthur rounding out the top four in that order.
Drilling down on those campaign donations, most of Rice’s contributions come from PAC donations routinely given to sitting Congressmen. While Allen shows $501,244 raised, an analysis could find only three donations totaling $1,000 from people living within the 7th Congressional District.
By contrast, Richardson’s $179,797 is virtually all from 7th Congressional District residents as is Arthur’s $52,666.
Richardson already has experience as a candidate having won a county wide race for the School Board chairmanship in Horry County which contains approximately 50% of the voters in the 7th Congressional District. Arthur has no previous political experience.
Rice is the incumbent but he hurt his reelection chances significantly by voting to impeach President Donald Trump in a January 2021 House vote.
Money is sometimes called ‘the mother’s milk of politics.’ However, if the amount of money raised and spent was the sole determinant in winning an election, Jaime Harrison would be a U. S. Senator today instead of Lindsey Graham.
Allen is the most interesting story as he is attempting to win the race as a carpetbagger. The term carpetbagger is defined as “a political candidate who seeks election in an area where they have no local connections.”
While Allen may know a few people in the district, he has no real connections to the area and most voters I have talked to don’t know much about him.
Allen has gained some notoriety as a regular host on Glenn Beck’s Blaze television and his ‘Rant Nation’ podcasts. Having recently moved to Anderson, SC, Allen meets the federal requirements to run for the 7th Congressional District seat.
Allen appears to be a member of a small group of candidates who seem to think their military service and a little notoriety on social media defines them as super-patriots while voicing positions for Second Amendment gun rights and against a ‘swamp’ full of perceived ‘Communists and Marxists’ in Washington are keys to winning Republican nominations for federal office.

click on headline above to read more

Civil War Within the South Carolina Republican Party

(Ed. Note: This is a guest editorial by a long time Conservative Libertarian-Republican)

On July 13th, 2021 the Horry County Republican Party approved a resolution to censure Drew McKissick, the Chairman of the SCGOP, for interfering in the reorganization process of the Greenville Republican Party.
This action may be somewhat confusing to anyone who has not played close attention to South Carolina politics or even national Republican Party politics during the past decade.
In case you have not noticed, there is a civil war going on within the Republican Party between those who want to see a Republican Party that is an actual opposition party to the Democrats and those who like the status quo, we’ll call them the “Establishment”.
Just a quick pedantic moment from “the Hoff”. We all know what the Democrat Party stands for these days. That party has been taken over by the progressive movement, some call them the socialists, and others call them Marxists. Basically, the party stands for big government collectivism with massive controls over your individual and economic lives. For many of us conservatives, this means the death of our constitutional republic which was based on limited government, individualism, and a respect for our unalienable rights (given to us by our creator, not government). We conservatives (who the press label as “extremists”) value individual and economic freedom. In today’s political environment, the U.S. really only has two parties that can influence national and international policy; the Democrat Party and the Republican Party. Therein lies the rub.
Since we know what the Democrat Party stands for, what does the Republican Party stand for? To be a true opposition party to the Democrat Party, the Republican Party would have to stand for limited government, respect for our unalienable rights, and be a strong defender of less government interference in the marketplace. The Republican Party unfortunately has been anything but the opposition party. In our own beautiful Palmetto State the Republican Party has significantly increased the size and scope of the state government, increased taxes at every opportunity, infringed on most of our unalienable rights (due process, right to keep and bear arms, etc, etc,) and has increased the regulatory environment where the middle class small business owner today finds it hard to compete with big business (crony capitalism).
Thus, the civil war within the Republican Party between the Establishment and the Reformers. The reformers want to give voters a real choice at the polls, not just a choice between socialism and socialism-lite.

County Council Guts Impact Fee Ordinance Before Final Passage

Horry County Council gave unanimous approval to third reading of an ordinance establishing impact fees on new construction but only after voting to reduce the fees by 81.5% before final passage.
To those who haven’t followed the issue closely, the reduction to only a nominal fee that will be charged may seem an action in the best traditions of a conservative council.
BUT IT’S NOT!
In fact, it is a huge victory for special interests to the detriment of average taxpayers in the county.
What eight members of council really voted for was to cave-in to the wishes of the development lobby while ignoring the wishes of the taxpayers.
The development lobby was successful in defeating attempts to impose impact fees at least twice in the last 15 years. After county voters supported instituting impact fees to help pay the cost of new development by a 72% vote in 2018, it was obvious some type of bone had to be thrown to voters this time around.
The question is not whether the explosive development the county is currently experiencing is going to increase the need for new or improved roads, new stormwater infrastructure, new fire stations, new parks and so on. Rather the question is who is going to pay for these improvements of basic needs.
Eight members of council, Johnny Vaught, Dennis DiSabato, Danny Hardee, Mark Causey, Orton Bellamy, Bill Howard, Cam Crawford and Gary Loftus voted to extend those costs to every taxpayer in the county rather than limit the charge to those causing the increase – namely owners of new construction whether private homes or commercial.
Council Chairman Johnny Gardner, and members Harold Worley and Tyler Servant voted against the amendments gutting impact fees and for the wishes of the voters as expressed in the referendum.
New single-family homes will be the class of construction that will generate the greatest proportion of the new fees. The first two readings of the impact fee ordinance passed with a fee amount of $6,645 per single-family home with other types of construction, multi-family, retail, hotel for example, having maximum fees imposed in accordance with state law.
Tuesday night the eight council members named above amended the ordinance to remove impact fees for road and stormwater infrastructure from the ordinance thereby reducing the fee for single-family homes from $6,645 per home to $1,236 per home.
But the costs for new and improved road and stormwater infrastructure to serve the new developments throughout the county won’t go away just because council removed those portions of the fee from the ordinance.

click on headline above to read more

Crunch Time for County Council and Impact Fees

Tuesday night Horry County Council will vote on third reading of an ordinance to impose impact fees on new construction in the unincorporated areas of the county.
Two and one-half years ago, nearly 75% of the voters said yes to an advisory referendum question asking whether county council should establish impact fees in the county.
Despite passing the first two readings unanimously, third reading passage of the ordinance is not assured.
On the table at third reading of the ordinance is imposition of an impact fee of approximately $6,600 for new single-family homes and varying impact fees for other types of new construction depending on the type.
Numerous sources have told me over the past two weeks the pressure on council members from the development lobby to water down the bill or kill it completely has been intense.
That lobby, composed of large landowners, builders and their associated sub-contractors and the real estate sales industry is pushing the message that impact fees will cause a significant slowdown in construction costing jobs and seriously impacting the local economy as well as making it more difficult in recruiting new businesses to the area.
The real reason for the opposition to impact fees is the builders do not want to pay $6.600 more out of their pockets each time they receive a new building permit. Developers will recover that money when the house is sold because the cost of impact fees will be passed on to the new homeowner, but they don’t want to float that sum for the few months between start of construction and sale in today’s market.
The impact fee will add approximately 2.5% to the cost of the average new home in Horry County. Prices on new homes have risen considerably more than that in the past year simply through market forces of supply and demand and sales of new homes have not slowed down because of the increasing price.
Impact fees in Horry County are not a new concept. Grand Strand Water and Sewer Authority has been collecting impact fees for a number of years. The statement in the county’s Imagine 2040 master plan explaining those fees is simple, “GSWSA collects water and wastewater capacity fees (impact fees) from new customers so that the current customer base does not bear the burden of new growth for both water and wastewater improvements.”
The development lobby used its same arguments when GSWSA imposed impact fees. Those arguments were totally false then and remain totally false now. One only has to drive around the county and view all the new construction projects in various stages of completion to see how false the argument is. GSWSA impact fees have not impacted new construction one iota.

click on headline above to read more

Goldfinch Undecided About Next Political Venture

Recently I published an article in which I said state Sen. Stephen Goldfinch would challenge 15th Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson in the June 2022 Republican Primary.
Goldfinch called me after publication to say he had not made a decision to run for solicitor. He said he was considering several political offices and didn’t know when he would make a decision about which one to contest. Goldfinch did admit to paying a portion of the cost of a recent telephone poll in which questions about Tom Rice and Richardson were predominant.
Among the offices Goldfinch said he was considering were solicitor, S. C. 7th Congressional District currently held by Tom Rice, Lieutenant Governor or he may decide to stay with his state senate seat. The first three options will all be contested in the June 2022 primaries. He will not have to run again for nomination for senator until June 2024.
Goldfinch also stated I was wrong in saying he had plead guilty in 2013 to a federal misdemeanor for misbranded drugs in violation of Title 21, United States Code Section 331(a). He told me all the charges in the case were dropped.
I requested records from the U.S. District Court in Houston. Goldfinch is correct, the charges were ultimately dropped, but only because of an apparent administrative failure.
According to records from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas Houston Division, Goldfinch “aided and abetted by others known and unknown to the United States Attorney, caused the introduction and delivery for introduction into interstate commerce stem cells that were misbranded in that the stem cells and packaging did not contain directions for use.”
According to the charging document, the stem cells referred to were used to treat patients with severe diseases such as multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in violation of federal law.
According to the court documents, an order for an issuance of summons for Goldfinch to appear in Houston, Texas at 10 A.M. December 10, 2013 for the charge was signed on November 27, 2013 by a U.S. Magistrate Judge.
According to a report by the Associated Press, dated November 28, 2013, Goldfinch told the reporter he had been cooperating with the federal investigation. Goldfinch told the Georgetown Times he would have no choice but to plead guilty to the charge. On December 4, 2013, theNerve.org published an article in which Goldfinch was quoted as saying, “I’ve fully cooperated with federal authorities and I told them I fully intend to plead guilty.”

click headline above to read more

Fate of County Council Draws Near with Upcoming Vote on Impact Fees

In two weeks, the 12 members of Horry County Council will go a long way toward deciding their future fates with the voters when third reading of the county impact fee ordinance comes up for a vote.
In 2018, over 70% of voters approved establishing impact fees in the county on an advisory referendum question on the general election ballot.
Those voters have not forgotten their eminently clear message to county council – vote for impact fees.
On the table at third reading of the ordinance is imposition of an impact fee of approximately $6,600 for new single-family homes and varying impact fees for other types of new construction depending on the type.
The need for impact fees to pay for the costs of new development is quite simple. Revenue from those fees can be used to fund new capital projects in a variety of categories including roads, parks and recreation facilities, libraries, fire stations and police stations that will be needed to serve the huge amount of development currently underway in the county.
Using impact fees to pay for such new construction can reduce the pressure on the general fund to pay those costs or the need to impose such things as special projects sales taxes such as the RIDE tax.
To further exacerbate the issue, eight members of county council (Johnny Vaught, Dennis DiSabato, Cam Crawford, Gary Loftus, Bill Howard, Orton Bellamy, Danny Hardee and Mark Causey) provided the votes to pass the largest individual tax increase in Horry County history – 7.5 mils in the unincorporated area plus increases in two additional fees.
As one social media post noted about the tax increase, “Absolutely heinous that the special interests and county council put all this (costs of) new development on the backs of existing taxpayers. Unbelievable! If they had imposed impact fees when the majority of HC residents approved them several years ago, we wouldn’t have to have such huge mil increases. This is literally taxation without representation and it’s theft.”
And another, “The tax and spend so-called Republicans don’t give a flip. They will find any excuse to raise taxes on the hard-working residents of Horry County.”
Three members of county council, Chairman Johnny Gardner, Harold Worley and Al Allen received thanks for voting against the tax increase and “putting the people first.” Council member Tyler Servant was absent for the vote.
The message in those posts is certainly clear, but one wonders whether all council members are hearing that message.

click on above headline to read more

Goldfinch Weighing Run for Solicitor

Earlier this week I lumped Stephen Goldfinch into a group of state legislators considering a challenge to Tom Rice in the June 2022 primary.
It appears I was wrong.
Goldfinch is apparently considering challenging Jimmy Richardson for the 15th Circuit Solicitor’s job, according to a number of people I have spoken with since I wrote the article.
Richardson is generally considered a good solicitor. He trained as an assistant solicitor under Greg Hembree and was elected to the top job when Hembree moved on to the state senate in 2012.
One attorney I spoke with said, “Other than some convicted felons, I don’t know of anyone who has an issue with Jimmy Richardson.”
Goldfinch, on the other hand, would be virtually a novice in the criminal area of the law. He doesn’t appear to have handled more than a handful of criminal cases, all misdemeanors, in his law practice.
He not only has no experience with serious felony cases but would not even be eligible, according to state guidelines, to defend a death penalty case. Of course, the way things are set up, minimum requirements of years of experience for criminal defense in capital cases are mandated but for prosecution they are not.
As one attorney said to me, “The law requires competent defense not competent prosecution.” But the people demand competent prosecution against serious offenders.
Goldfinch has had one brush with the law as a criminal defendant. In 2013, Goldfinch plead guilty to one misdemeanor charge of interstate transfer of mislabeled drugs. The charge arose when federal prosecutors in Houston alleged upon their information that from April 26, 2006, through Dec. 30, 2008, a Mt. Pleasant-based company then owned and operated by Goldfinch, called Caledonia Consulting Inc., was involved with the “distribution and sale of stem cells” that had not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to “treat human diseases.”
At the time of the charge, Goldfinch told media he had no knowledge of illegal activities by those the stem cells were sold to or by the doctor who harvested the stem cells.
One of those doctors has presented a different story as an “official archived legal webpage” on the website of his company. That webpage can be viewed at: https://www.dammaimorganllc.com/archive-stem-cells-case.html

click on headline above to read more

New Defendant Added to Lawsuit Gallman v Rankin et al. Bringing New Revelations

Earlier this year, John Gallman filed a lawsuit against Luke Rankin and a host of others who supported Rankin’s 2020 reelection for actions that took place during the primary runoff including libel/slander, invasion of privacy and civil conspiracy.
The initial complaint raised questions about what is protected political speech and how far do those protections extend.
The lawsuit is based in part on mailer and television attack advertisements against Gallman paid for by the “South Carolina Industry Project, a project of the American Industry Project, 2020 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, No. 3009, Washington, D.C.”, as stated on the advertisements.
Horry County Council member Tyler Servant was listed on the Form 990 filed by the American Industry Project with the IRS in 2018. Servant was named as president of the American Industry Project in that filing and was included as a defendant in the lawsuit based on his association with the organization.
Servant’s answer to the complaint stated he was not associated with the American Industry Project since 2018 and asked for the complaint against him to be dismissed.
That answer led to further investigation by Gallman’s attorney. The Form 990 filed for tax year 2020 was filed by the American Industry Project after the initial complaint was filed. That Form 990 lists William Taylor, a S. C. House representative from Aiken, a board member of the American Industry Project for 2020. As a result, Taylor was added to the lawsuit as a defendant in an amended complaint.
How did a state representative from Aiken get listed as a board member of an organization based in Washington, D.C., which paid for attack ads against Gallman in an election race in Horry County for a state senate seat?
One clue may be that Taylor’s political website was created by Julie Emerson of Lagniappe Communications Group, according to Taylor. Both Emerson and Lagniappe Communications Group were listed as defendants in the lawsuit in both the original and amended complaints.
Emerson is a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives and founder of Lagniappe Communications Group, according to her biography.
Emerson ordered television time for the television ads attacking Gallman with WMBF and WBTW on behalf of the American Industry Project, according to the NAB PB-18 forms submitted to the television stations and signed electronically by Emerson. Both forms are exhibits filed with the lawsuit.
David Hucks of the news website myrtlebeachsc.com called Taylor to get his comments about his association with the American Industry Project and the lawsuit. Hucks had two recorded phone conversations with Taylor. Both conversations can be heard on his myrtlebeachsc.com website.

click on headline above to read more

Where are State Legislators in District 7 Congressional Race?

One of the most interesting aspects of the challengers to Tom Rice for next year’s Republican primary nomination for the S.C. 7th Congressional District is the lack of state legislators currently in the contest.
Statehouse legislative experience is often used as a stepping stone to the U. S. Congress. For example, John Jenrette, Mark Sanford, Lindsey Graham and Henry Brown all served in the S. C. General Assembly before winning a seat in Congress. Rice served two years as county council chairman before winning election to the newly created 7th Congressional District in 2012.
Rep. William Bailey formed a committee in January 2021 to explore whether he should challenge incumbent Tom Rice in next year’s primary. Last week, Bailey announced he would seek reelection to his S. C. House seat rather than run in the primary for the U. S. House of Representatives, preferring to concentrate on his efforts to improve and widen SC 9 all the way to Interstate 81 to provide access from three interstates to the Grand Strand.
According to several sources in Columbia, three other members of the local legislative delegation are considering entering the race. They are Rep. Russell Fry, Rep. Heather Crawford and Sen. Stephen Goldfinch.
Rice’s vote to impeach then President Donald Trump on January 13, 2021 has encouraged at least 10 challengers to his reelection at this writing. All 10, in one form or another, have criticized Rice’s vote to impeach Trump. To date, not Fry, nor Crawford nor Goldfinch has criticized Rice’s vote to impeach.
A campaign for federal office brings a level of scrutiny much deeper into a candidate’s background, voting record and associations than is normal for local elections. What baggage might be holding back any of these three from entering the primary against Rice?
All three aligned themselves in the past with what can be called the good ole boy Republicans who are now out of favor in Horry County.
The new leadership at the Horry County GOP is currently conducting a forensic audit into the past four years of that organization’s finances, the period before the new leadership took office. In addition, a recent media report disclosed the HCGOP is under scrutiny by the S. C. Ethics Commission for failure to file quarterly disclosure reports since 2017.
The new president of the HCGOP was quoted in the story as saying right now the HCGOP couldn’t file disclosure reports because of a lack of good financial data for that period.

click on above headline to read more

County Impact Fees Pass Unanimous Second Reading

Horry County Council is one step closer to imposing impact fees on new construction in the unincorporated areas of the county after unanimously passing second reading of an ordinance establishing those fees Tuesday night.
This is at least the fourth time in the past two decades that impact fees have been discussed by council. In the past, the development lobby has been successful in shutting down impact fees discussions before the issue got too far along in the legislative process.
Circumstances are different this time. Construction, especially of single-family homes, is red hot in the county and gives no signs of slowing down in the immediate future. Similar homes in similar type developments that were being advertised at mid-100s to high-100s last year are now being advertised in the mid-200s. That is approximately $250,000 for the average single-family home being constructed presently in a subdivision.
Some of that increase is due to the cost of building materials which have gone up by as much as four times in the case of lumber over the last 12 months. But profits for the developers have also been rising as the demand for new housing in the county continues to outpace the supply.
During past discussions, developers have been successful with the argument that impact fees would significantly increase the cost of a new home, driving down demand thereby causing high unemployment among the construction industry workers.
That argument does not hold water at this time even though it is being tried again and appears to have a sympathetic ear from a few council members.
Council member Dennis DiSabato attempted unsuccessfully to delay second reading of the ordinance by calling for a new committee to study the issue further. Council member Harold Worley, the most vocal supporter of impact fees during the discussion, said a vote to delay was a “kill pill” and the time had come to vote the ordinance up or down.
Council member Cam Crawford was more vocal and animated during the impact fee discussion than he has been in total in all the other council meetings and discussions over his nearly six years on council. Crawford’s voice and facial expressions clearly demonstrated his distaste for impact fees (or at least the distaste of those who have his ear).
In the end, however, neither DiSabato nor Crawford nor any other member of council voted against the ordinance.

click on headline above to read more