Tag: Alan Clemmons

Rice, Fry and Crawford’s Interstate 73 on Life Support

Since the City of Myrtle Beach killed a funding source for Interstate 73 with the hospitality fee lawsuit against Horry County, the cabal that stands to benefit from construction of the road has been attempting to keep the project alive.
In the last two years of his tenure as county chairman, Mark Lazarus led council to remove the sunset provision in the county’s hospitality fee ordinance. Then, Lazarus convinced council to approve a financial participation agreement with the S. C. Department of Transportation to provide dedicated funding for the interstate project.
Lazarus’ entire scheme to provide county funding for construction of I-73 blew up with the hospitality fee lawsuit and recent settlement.
Congressman Tom Rice, and state Reps. Heather Crawford and Russell Fry and former Rep. Alan Clemmons didn’t even get as far as Lazarus in securing funding for construction of Interstate 73 despite constantly proclaiming the project a major priority.
The most successful representative in obtaining funds for I-73 was former SC 1st Congressional District Rep. Henry Brown in the days when Horry County was part of that district. During his 10 years in Washington, Brown managed to secure approximately $83 million total for the road. Brown served in Congress from Jan. 2001 to Jan. 2011.
According to sources familiar with the project, SCDOT is currently spending the last of the Brown secured funding to purchase rights of way in the Mullins area.
Rice has demonstrated no ability to secure federal funding to move the I-73 project forward. Neither have Fry, Crawford and previously Clemmons at the state level.
Grand Strand Daily has learned that a recent private meeting was held after Gov. Henry McMaster made an address to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. The meeting included McMaster, Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune, North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley and Horry County Council member Dennis DiSabato. The meeting reportedly discussed providing some state funding, with local matching funds, to keep the project alive.
It is interesting that McMaster chose to meet with Bethune and Hatley, the two mayors who played the largest part in eliminating I-73 funding from hospitality fee revenue, as well as DiSabato who will struggle to get seven votes among council members for the proposal. One wonders, where was Horry County Council member Johnny Vaught when this meeting occurred. Vaught was attached at the hip to Lazarus with attempting to provide dedicated annual funding for I-73 from hospitality fee revenue.
(click on headline above to read more)

Old Guard Out at HCGOP

A new day dawned Saturday for the Horry County Republican Party when the ‘Old Guard’, ‘establishment’ or whatever you want to call it was swept out of power at the party’s biennial convention.
The three top offices in the HCGOP were won by relative newcomers to the local party – Roger Slagle-Chairman, Jeremy Halpin-Vice Chairman and Tracy Beanz Diaz-State Executive Committee member (pictured above).
The feeling that change was needed in the local party has been building for a while, but accelerated over the last month. Two years ago, there were approximately 206 voting delegates at the convention. This year that number increased to approximately 370.
The increased surge in participation can be at least partially linked to two events this week at which approximately 400 people attended each time. Both events were hosted by local Republican Patriot activist Chad Caton. Caton has battled with members of the ‘Old Guard’ for the past two years about how the local party was being run.
Wednesday night saw an event in Aynor to introduce Tracy Beanz Diaz to delegates and the general public. The highlight of the night for many of the attendees was a speech given by former President Donald Trump’s first National Security Adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, in support of his friend Diaz. Horry County Treasurer Angie Jones also spoke in support of Diaz’ candidacy and additionally worked hard at helping to organize the event.
Friday night saw an event in Myrtle Beach where Slagle, Halpin and Diaz all spoke to the crowd about their vision for a new Republican Party in Horry County. The main speaker, however, was Lin Wood, attorney for President Trump and a candidate for the South Carolina Republican Party Chairman post at next month’s state party convention. Wood also mingled with the crowd at the Aynor event talking and taking photos with the attendees.
Change is building in the state. Many people who have become active Republicans in the last five years are disgusted with the ‘good ole boy’ system that has run Republican Party politics in the state since the party became a majority among South Carolina voters.
State party Chairman Drew McKissick is running for reelection to his post. However, if Horry County and other recent county conventions are any indicator, Lin Wood could well oust McKissick from office.
(Click headline for more)

Myrtle Beach Cabal v. McBride in District 107 Primary Voting Today

Voters in House District 107 will again go to the polls today to determine who will be the new Republican nominee for the South Carolina House of Representatives seat from that district.

The special primary was made necessary when former representative Alan Clemmons resigned from his House seat five weeks after being nominated for his tenth term in office.

Clemmons had been looking for another government job for the past two years with no luck so he took the default position of raising campaign donations and running for nomination for his tenth term. It has been obvious that he would bolt from that seat when prospects of a much higher paying job was potentially in the offing. When he learned the Master in Equities judge position would be available next July, he resigned from the House to secure the one year lapse, required by state law, from service in the General Assembly to appointment to a judgeship.

There is one way Clemmons can prove me wrong with my above conclusion. I challenge Clemmons  to come out publicly with a statement that his affidavit to the S. C. Election Commission was truthful about resigning his seat in the House and his nomination to another term for non-political reasons, as stated in the affidavit, and that under no circumstances will he seek nor accept the position of Horry County Master in Equity, which would be a political appointment.

As soon as he decided to resign, Clemmons, in his own words, called his opponent in the June regular primary, Case Brittain, to notify Brittain of his decision and start the process that would make Brittain the choice of the Myrtle Beach cabal in the special primary.

Brittain was reportedly advised by Clemmons and Mark Lazarus to hire the cabal’s go to political consultant Walter Whetsell and his Starboard Communications for the special primary.

The choice tomorrow is between the cabal’s candidate, Brittain, and former Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride.

Clemmons did the bidding of the cabal, securing passage of the enabling legislation for the Tourism Development Fee in 2009 and amending the original legislation to eliminate the ten-year sunset provision so the fee could be continued ad infinitum.

Clemmons was also a major voice pushing I-73 at the state level but was wholly unsuccessful in obtaining any construction grants from the state for the road.

Brittain has Clemmons, McBride has Answers

In this strangest of all election seasons, the voters of SC House District 107 are going to the polls next week to vote in what may be the strangest of all – a special primary election to nominate a Republican candidate for the November general election.

Case Brittain, the defeated candidate from the June Republican primary for District 107, and former Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride are the candidates on the ballot for the special primary.

Only two months ago, Alan Clemmons won the regular Republican primary for nomination to what would have been his tenth term as representative for District 107.

Five weeks later, Clemmons resigned from the House and sent an affidavit to the SC Ethics Commission citing the necessity of concentrating on his family and law practice as reasons for removing himself as the Republican candidate.

It is important to note here that Clemmons affirmed to the election commission, under penalty of perjury, that his dropping out as the nominated candidate was for “non-political reasons”, a requirement for the party to conduct a special election to nominate a replacement candidate for the general election.

Nowhere in Clemmons’ statement did it mention the widely circulated story that Clemmons expects to be selected as the Master in Equity judge for Horry County when the position becomes vacant next July. South Carolina law requires a member of the General Assembly to be out of office for a minimum of one year before they can become a judge or a lobbyist. The Master in Equity position currently pays approximately $180,000 per year. State funded pensions are based on a person’s highest three years of salary.

Shortly after resigning from the House, Clemmons received the appointment of the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee to serve on the three member South Carolina Board of Economic Advisers, a position that supposedly “specific working knowledge and experience in economics, revenue forecasting, and the state budget process,” according to state law. The position pays $8,000 per year and, more importantly, qualifies for state funded benefits such as health insurance and retirement.

Clemmons Resigns House Seat Triggering Special Primary Election for House District 107 – Updated

Update

The South Carolina Election Commission accepted Alan Clemmons’ affidavit that he resigned his House seat for non-political reasons. A special primary will be held to replace Clemmons on the November general election ballot.

Filing for the special primary will begin at noon July 28, 2020 and end at noon August 4, 2020. The special primary election will be held on August 18, 2020 in House District 107 voting precincts. There was no Democratic opposition for nomination to this seat in the regular primary elections but Democrats have the option of filing for a special primary election in the same filing period.

Five weeks after winning the Republican Primary nomination for House District 107, Alan Clemmons notified S. C. House Speaker Jay Lucas today he was resigning the seat he has held for nine terms.

In his resignation letter, Clemmons cited demands of his law practice and a desire to concentrate more time with his family as reasons for his resignation. The resignation triggers a special primary election for the House District 107 seat.

Clemmons must now submit an affidavit to the State Election Commission that his resignation is for non-political reasons, such as those stated above. When that affidavit is accepted by the election commission, notice of a special primary election will be given with the applicable dates for that event.

This reporter contacted Sandy Martin, Director of the Horry County Voters Registration and Election Office, for the possible time frame of the special election. According to Martin, if Clemmons’ affidavit is accepted by the state election commission on or before July 25, 2020, the filing period for the special primary election would be August 4 – 11, 2020. However those dates are subject to change based on the timing of the Clemmons affidavit.

Martin confirmed that the Clemmons’ resignation will trigger a special election. She said the notification of the dates for filing will be placed in the Sun News after she receives notification from the election commission that the affidavit has been accepted.

Money for I-77, Where is Money for I-73?

President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday June 18th about $34.6 million appropriated from the federal government for a new interchange on I-77 in Rock Hill.

Where is an appropriation for I-73?

Trump’s tweet again highlights the inability of our elected representatives, many of whom were reelected at last week’s primary, to get any funding for their supposed number one agenda item.

Tom Rice, Alan Clemmons, Heather Crawford, Luke Rankin, Russell Fry, Dennis Disabato, Cam Crawford, Gary Loftus, Johnny Vaught, Bill Howard, Tyler Servant, Brenda Bethune – aren’t you all embarrassed and ashamed of your continuing inability to secure any funding for I-73?

Over the past year, each and every one of you has spoken of the importance of I-73 to the local economy and to the safety of our citizens.

All this announcement does is demonstrate your political impotence, both individually and collectively, to deliver funding from any source other than Horry County for the project you list among your top priorities!

Five of the above, Clemmons, both Crawfords, Disabato and Loftus were victors in recent primaries, guaranteeing their reelection in November. Two others, Rice and Fry, had no primary opponent and will have a virtual walkover in November. Four, Vaught, Howard, Servant and Bethune, will face reelection over the next two years. The lone remaining incumbent, Rankin, faces a runoff election next week.

Whether it be money for I-73, flood mitigation, other infrastructure projects or other needs to help the citizens of Horry County, the ‘Dirty Dozen’ incumbents mentioned above can’t deliver.

Even the development industry, which spent tons of money helping the reelection of these people has to be let down at this announcement. After all, I-73 would net immediate revenue for some of those and it would open up considerable land in the western part of the county for development, even though much of it probably shouldn’t be developed due to flooding and infrastructure considerations.

Despite their continuing demonstrated inability to accomplish anything positive for the area, the voters chose to send those up for reelection last week back into office.

This announcement is just another example of why that was a bad idea.

The Incumbent Campaign of Misinformation and Desperation

Misinformation and desperation are seeping into incumbent campaigns as we move toward primary voting Tuesday.

We have seen the SCGOP ignore campaign finance and ethics regulations to send numerous mailers supporting the reelection of Alan Clemmons and Heather Crawford.

Why would the SCGOP feel the need to insert itself into the contests between Republican candidates?

Obviously the party leaders in Columbia are afraid of losing two representatives who will do exactly what they are told to do.

Doing what they are told to do in Columbia doesn’t help the constituents Clemmons and Crawford are supposed to serve in Horry County. That’s why the panic.

In the past several days Clemmons and Luke Rankin have posted individual pictures of themselves with President Trump. Those were photo ops taken when the president was in Horry County during the Hurricane Florence flooding.

Both reportedly talked up the Interstate 73 project to the president during that trip. If Clemmons and Rankin are as close to President Trump as they would like you to believe, where are the federal dollars to build the interstate?

In similar fashion, one of the SCGOP mailers for Crawford and Clemmons touted an endorsement of them by the governor. Again, if they are so close to the governor and the legislative leaders in Columbia, for that matter, where are the state dollars to build I-73?

Clemmons has consistently stated I-73 is his number one priority as a legislator. Yet, year after year, no money comes from the state for the project.

Meanwhile Clemmons represents a declining Myrtle Beach that he appears to ignore as the number of empty commercial buildings in the city continues to rise every year.

One of the SCGOP mailers for Crawford attempted to present her as ‘working hard’ to solve the flooding problems in her district. She has done nothing other than clean out some ditches to help the citizens devastated by repeated flooding events since 2016 nor to mitigate future flooding. Again, no state grants have been forthcoming to help these needed initiatives.

Final Campaign Week Messaging and Oddities, Voters Beware

We are in the final week of campaigning before the June 9th primary elections and we are seeing all the oddities and sound bite messaging that come with a final week push.

Cam and Heather Crawford are attempting to use endorsements by Gov. Henry McMaster and the Chairman of the Governor’s Floodwater Commission to prove to voters that they should be reelected.

This pair loves endorsements. However, they didn’t work for their prize candidate former Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus two years ago. The Lazarus campaign trumpeted endorsements by many sitting politicians but the voters weren’t fooled. They understood this is just a ploy used by the establishment to attempt to keep its minions in office. Which brings up the question, why is the SCGOP paying for so many mailers for Heather Crawford?

The Crawfords are bragging about getting ditches cleaned and attempting to get local governments to increase their debt obligations with a so-called ‘buyout program.’ If they were really effective, Heather would have been able to get state grant money, not loans, available for a buyout program. After all, the state had a 2 billion revenue surplus last year.

For that matter, they would have been able to get significant state funding for the Interstate 73 project they love to promote. That hasn’t been accomplished either.

When you look at their supposed list of accomplishments, it is obvious that the rhetoric is high but the performance is low.

Their most significant accomplishment, if you wish to call it that, is picking a fight with Horry County Rising, a citizens group with many members who are flood victims and who is actually trying to address flooding issues and mitigation.

If the Crawfords were really trying to help, they would attempt to work with this group, but that would take away from the photo ops and attempts to be center stage, which the Crawfords believe will fool the voters.

Another interesting quirk in campaigning comes from county council candidate Terry Fowler. From the beginning of his campaign, Fowler has made rash statements that after June 9th new home building in District 9 will stop. He has tried to paint several competitors as lackeys of the development industry because they are realtors.

Weighing the Truth of Clemmons and Crawford Campaign Flyers

The truth of explanations for the campaign flyers sent out supporting the candidacies of Alan Clemmons and Heather Ammons Crawford, marked “Paid for by the SCGOP” and “authorized by” the respective candidates, in the races for SC House District 107 and SC House District 68 respectively, have been “weighed on the scales and found wanting”, as the Book of Daniel would say.

There have been three mailers each supporting Clemmons and Crawford marked “Paid for by the SCGOP” and “authorized by” the respective candidate. There must have been some polling showing both Clemmons and Crawford trailing their challengers for the SCGOP to take such blatant, biased actions in a primary election.

The Horry County Republican Party Bylaws specifically prohibit such action by party officials, ” Bylaws Section 1-A. Elected and appointed officials of the Horry County Republican party shall not endorse, work for, assist, or allow their name to be used in support of a Republican candidate who has opposition from another Republican candidate during a Primary or Run-off election.”

There is a very good reason for this prohibition. Primary elections are run by the parties. If an election challenge is made, it is heard by the Executive Committee of either the local or state party, depending on what office is involved.

In the case of Clemmons and Crawford, if the results of their elections are challenged, the challenge must, by law, be heard by the SCGOP Executive Committee, the same group that would have had to approve the sending of the mailers. How could there possibly be an impartial judgement from that committee considering they have already chosen their preferred winner?

I contacted the state party by email over two weeks ago asking why the SCGOP was involving itself in primary elections and who approved sending the mailers. To date, I have received no response.