By Paul Gable
During the last several months the Mark Lazarus campaign has tried everything to change the history of his previous term as county chairman and to present a false image of Lazarus as a successful leader, which of course he was not.
That is unless you count getting the entire county work force mad at you; spending county revenue on a project that should be paid for by the state and federal governments if it is to be built at all and allowing unrestricted development to outpace the local infrastructure in roads, stormwater mitigation and public services as successful accomplishments.
As a last-ditch effort to pull out victory, the Lazarus campaign resorted to a tactic that was successful for Luke Rankin two years ago. It found a PAC to spend dark money for a hit piece on Gardner.
However, instead of the outrageous false and defamatory accusations made about Rankin’s opponent John Gallman two years ago, the one against Gardner is barely a whimper.
It was much less of a thing than the attempt Lazarus, Chris Eldridge and Arrigo Carotti tried to pull to keep Gardner from taking office as chairman four years ago only speaks to how clean Gardner has been.
Four years ago, it was a completely false memo about fictional allegations all, apparently, the figment of Carotti’s imagination. The supposed source Carotti said gave him the initial information for his five-page memo called the memo “mostly fiction” after the Carotti’s attempt at being an author went public and a SLED investigation found no credibility in anything Carotti wrote.
This time the only thing they could try on Gardner was to attempt to make a minor ethics violation Gardner paid a fine for seem like some big thing.
What is much more interesting than the negative ad itself, is the names associated with the various organizations involved in producing and distributing it.
In yesterday’s article, I mistakenly called the PAC paying for the ad as “The American Century PAC.” This was wrong, the correct organization is “Our American Century PAC.” Invictus Strategies is the organization supposedly doing the ordering of the ads with the local stations.
Our American Century PAC and Invictus Strategies have even closer ties to the people who were involved in producing the negative ads against Gallman two years ago, some of whom are named defendants in the defamation lawsuit Gallman is currently pursuing against the American Industry Project (the PAC used for those ads) and the various players associated with the defamation.
According to the National Association of Broadcasters PB-18 forms filed with the local television stations for the negative ad on Gardner, Chris Comeaux for Invictus Strategies placed the ad order with Our American Century PAC paying the bill.
The same Chris Comeaux is listed as the Marketing Director for Brave New Television of Walker, Louisiana on Linked In.
In April 2022, Julie Emerson, on behalf of Invictus Strategies, placed ads for the Mehmet Oz/Dave McCormick Pennsylvania Senate race with WSEE in Erie, Pennsylvania, according to PB-18 forms filed with that station.
The same Julie Emerson owns Lagniappe Communications in Louisiana. Julie Emerson placed the ads defaming Gallman, according to PB-18 forms filed with local stations, with the American Industry Project PAC listed as the payor.
Both Emerson and Lagniappe Communications are named defendants in the Gallman lawsuit and both have a longstanding relationship with Comeaux and Brave New Television. American Industry Project and two of its named officers, Horry County Council member Tyler Servant and S.C. Rep. Bill Taylor, are named defendants in the Gallman lawsuit.
American Industry Project was reportedly organized in 2018 to run negative ads against Catherine Templeton when Templeton challenged Henry McMaster for the Republican nomination for governor.
According to information available on OpenSecrets.Org, Our American Century PAC paid Trafalgar Group of Atlanta, GA, owned by Robert Cahaly, a total of $1,001,000 for vendor services in 2020. Cahaly is a named defendant in the Gallman lawsuit.
OpenSecrets.Org shows Our American Century PAC paid Lagniappe Communications $108,000 for vendor services in 2020. As mentioned earlier, Lagniappe Communications and its owner Julie Emerson are both named defendants in the Gallman lawsuit.
Just to keep things interesting, Comeaux is named in an ethics violation in Louisiana. Ironic isn’t it that a guy charged with an ethics violation produces an ad about an ethics violation?
The violation was allegedly committed by Citizens for a New Louisiana PAC. Citizens for a New Louisiana PAC list Comeaux and Hannah Pickle as officers, according to filings with the Louisiana Ethics Administration.
The same Hannah Pickle is named as an officer of the Foundation for Law and Government (FLAG) PAC, which funded the American Industry Project, which was named in the local PB-18 filings as paying for the negative ads against Gallman ordered by Emerson and her Lagniappe Communications.
Another director of FLAG is S.C. Rep. Bruce Bannister who is listed as the attorney representing several of the defendants named in the Gallman lawsuit including Emerson, Lagniappe and Cahaly.
Isn’t it amazing how some of the same names keep showing up?
The definition of Cabal is “a secret political clique of faction.”
It should be painfully obvious by now through the information above and in previous articles on Grand Strand Daily that there is certainly a local Cabal (secret political clique or faction), some may call it “The Swamp”, whose intent is to control politics in Horry County at the expense of the people.
When People’s candidates, such as Gardner, threaten the plans of the Cabal, funding becomes no object through the various PACs available to the Cabal, such as those listed above, to either promote Cabal candidates or attack opposing candidates with the hope the propaganda and/or attacks will sway voters to cast their ballots for Cabal candidates.
The Cabal and the politicians connected with it (Lazarus, Bethune, Hatley, Vaught, DiSabato, Howard, Crawfords, to name a few) have done everything they possibly could to discredit and embarrass Gardner since he was elected four years ago because he wouldn’t join their little clique and sacrifice the needs of the people to the desires of the Cabal.
In Tuesday’s local runoffs Gardner for Horry County Council Chairman, Brandon Skipper for Horry County Council District 8 and Brian Sweeny for SC House District 106 are the candidates of the People. Those are the candidates to vote for if you want to keep the Cabal from total control of Horry County.