By Paul Gable
False narratives appear to have become the standard emanating from some county government officials pursuing personal agendas over the past few years.
The latest is the five-page narrative crafted by county attorney Arrigo Carotti, with some input from county administrator Chris Eldridge, which attempted to place new council chairman Johnny Gardner involved in a nefarious plot that never happened.
Local editorial cartoonist Ed Wilson captured the essence of what went on between Eldridge and Carotti perfectly in the editorial cartoon accompanying this article. Once again, Wilson has demonstrated that a picture is worth 1,000 words.
The two examined snippets of conversations either or both had been party to with Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation CEO Sandy Davis to attempt to find incriminating evidence against Gardner. As Wilson depicts, the search was quite literally to make a mountain out of a molehill.
Eldridge used this bit of creative writing on the part of Carotti as an excuse to call in SLED to investigate. The narrative was also conveniently leaked to a Columbia media outlet to sensationalize the narrative.
This is not the first time a false narrative has been used as a county tactic to attempt to create a certain image in media.
One only has to read the county’s response and counterclaims, as amended, in the Angie Jones lawsuit against Eldridge and the county to view another example.
As I quoted from the amended response and counterclaims in the Jones lawsuit, the county said, “If Jones has any alleged “issues” with regard to staffing and competently and efficiently performing her duties as the Horry County Treasurer, such issues are solely as a result of her mismanagement of her offices and her own decisions, including her decisions to drive out and remove and replace competent long-term employees with friends and political supporters lacking in relevant experience.”
The bit about doing favors for friends and political supporters is strikingly similar to allegations against Gardner.
Another example can be found in the county’s response and counterclaim filed in connection with a Freedom of Information lawsuit I filed against the county last year.
Again some creative writing attempts to connect Gardner campaign consultant Donald Smith and I in a plot to write a negative campaign article targeted against Gardner opponent incumbent Mark Lazarus.
You can see the same attempt to link the Smith and myself in Carotti’s email and in an email authored by Chris Eldridge to an event that never happened.
If the facts don’t fit, just make some up and hope enough gullible people will believe them to give a narrative credibility. Shame on those gulllible enough to believe them!
Unfortunately, this is government we are talking about, not some creative writing class.