By Paul Gable
I received many calls this morning about an article that appeared on the FitsNews.com website today. The article included a reproduction of a five-page email county attorney Arrigo Carotti sent to the 12 current members of county council and county administrator Chris Eldridge last night.
It did not take long for the email to be leaked to FitsNews last night, almost as if it was planned.
In response to the media article and the information Council Members received from Carotti, I sent an email containing the following message to council members, Carotti, Eldridge and Donald Smith:
I was surprised to be told this morning that an article today in FitsNews included reproduction of a five page email from Arrigo Carotti to Chris Eldridge and the current 12 members of county council in which my name was included in events that never happened.
Carotti said in his concluding sentence that the email was written to the best of his recollection.
Let’s expand on that, it included statements that could be interpreted as pointing to possible criminal acts. These statements were made, to the best of Carotti’s recollection, about a conversation he had with Sandy Davis about a conversation she supposedly had with Luke Barefoot, presumably to the best of her recollection.
This is hearsay at its worst!
Now let’s get to the crux of the matter.
In his email, Carotti says Davis told him that Barefoot told her, “that Paul Gable was getting ready to print an article against the EDC pointing out her lack of education specifically, and that she could head that off, and any similar blogs in the future, by retaining Donald Smith to do the EDC’s public relations.”
The problem with that statement is I never talked to Luke Barefoot, or anyone else, about doing an article about Sandy Davis’ education. I never had in my mind at any time doing such an article. I have certainly written many articles criticizing the EDC and Partners before it about the organization’s many missteps in including businesses such as AvCraft and Project Blue, to name two, in its economic development efforts.
I have stated many times, both in articles and in person, I believe county council’s funding of the EDC is a waste of money. Nobody has paid me to say that, nor has anyone ever offered to pay me to have me not say that.
There is a reference in the Carotti email to a conversation Davis reported having with Donald Godwin. “She said that she also had talked to Donald Godwin who told her that they had done the same to him, and that he had paid, and that it didn’t matter because when you stop paying they’ll write bad stuff about you anyway.”
I have never written a story about Donald Godwin, either positive or negative, and I have never spoken to Donald Godwin about paying me to either write a story or not write a story. In my estimation, that entire statement, supposedly credited to Godwin, is pure fiction on the part of Davis, Carotti or both!
One would expect an attorney, prior to passing along such hearsay, to attempt to determine whether it is true or not by going to the supposed original source. But, maybe I am expecting too much.
Gentlemen of council, I have never been paid by Donald Smith to either write a story or not write a story. I have never been paid by anyone to write a story or not write a story. Anything I write comes from my own decision to write it!
Anyone who says otherwise, if anyone actually did, is a liar!
The email also includes statements that Neyle Wilson had a different interpretation of what Davis told him about her conversation with Barefoot to what Davis supposedly told Carotti. Carotti admits that there are several versions of the Davis recollections and that he isn’t sure about what is true.
Carotti’s email to council members is so full of misinformation based on hearsay it is laughable. However, he chose to share this information with council members.
One must wonder what the motivation really is behind Carotti’s sending such a missive to county council members and why at least one shared it with FitsNews.
Quite frankly, the entire exercise seems to be an attempt to smear Johnny Gardner on the day he will participate in a swearing in ceremony as the new chairman of county council. It appears to be an attempt to turn those who will be returning to council against Gardner before he ever takes office.
Carotti is the county attorney. This is an EDC issue. Davis is not an employee of Horry County as Carotti said he stated to her. Who was his client that he referred to in his remarks about listening to a four minute segment of an hour and a half conversation?
Lazarus, Loftis and Eldridge are all members of the EDC board and presumably were acting in that capacity in listening to the tape.
What exactly are the motivations behind the actions of Eldridge and Carotti in grossly blowing such hearsay out of proportion?
In my opinion, it is time for county council to get the county administrator and county attorney under control.
Read Carotti’s entire email: Attorney-Client-Privileged (1)