Tag: Alan Wilson

Last Minute Swamp Tricks in 7th Congressional District Race

Three months ago, 7th Congressional District candidate Mark McBride claimed that Myrtle Beach SC publisher David Hucks offered a bribe to McBride on behalf of candidate Ken Richardson.
According to McBride’s subsequent Facebook rant, McBride was asked to drop out of the 7th Congressional District race and throw his support to Richardson for the promise of some type of job.
Grand Strand Daily has learned that SLED will issue a press release shortly, which will state after an investigation McBride’s claims were found to be totally without merit.
The fact that there was no basis for McBride’s rant is not surprising. He was never going to be a factor in this race whether he stayed in or got out. Tomorrow’s voting will demonstrate that statement.
But, there is quite possibly a darker side to this entire affair. Richardson was an early candidate in the race building momentum against incumbent Tom Rice.
Then, Gov. Henry McMaster and SCGOP Chairman Drew McKissick worked hard to get an endorsement candidate Russell Fry by Donald Trump.
According to information received by Grand Strand Daily, SLED completed its investigation of the false claim within several weeks and the report of the investigation lay untouched in the office of Attorney General Alan Wilson for at least eight weeks.
Now, in the late afternoon of the day before polls open and after the two-week period for early voting has ended, the announcement will be made that there is no wrongdoing on Richardson’s part.

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Political Change Does Not Extend to Columbia

Governor Henry McMaster and Attorney General Alan Wilson rolled to big victories in Republican Primary runoff elections yesterday meaning there will be no changes to the political power structure in Columbia.

Most of the incumbents in the General Assembly will be returning because they faced no opposition in the primaries or the upcoming November general election.

When voters continue to send the same people back to Columbia election after election, they can’t expect changes in the way state government operates. It is simple to suppose that special interests and lobbyists will continue to control the legislative agenda in Columbia at the expense of the average citizen.

Horry County will continue to be a large donor county to the rest of the state because our legislative delegation is so weak. Roads that should be paid for with state and federal funds will continue to be funded by local option sales taxes. The real estate and development lobby will continue to oppose impact fees satisfied that current citizens will continue to pay for infrastructure costs associated with new development.

One interesting sidebar to yesterday’s runoffs locally was the City of Myrtle Beach removed candidate signs from the areas near polling precincts in the city early in the day. According to several sources who spoke with the workers removing the signs, “the word came from City Hall.”

Whether this was an attempt at voter suppression or just another example of the arrogance that continues to emanate from city officials, it does seem to show complete disregard for the election process.

However, the citizens in Horry County will see some changes at the county level with the election of a new chairman for county government.

No longer will over 20 minute response times to 911 calls be acceptable to council while large pots of tax dollars are accumulated to build Interstate 73 through Marion and Dillon counties to connect to Interstate 95.

No longer will the needs of county departments be ignored because of personal animosities in Conway.

SC Supreme Court Slaps Down Alan Wilson

By a 4-1 margin, the SC Supreme Court ruled yesterday that Attorney General Alan Wilson had no authority to remove solicitor David Pascoe from a continuing investigation into corruption in the SC General Assembly.

The investigation began in 2014 and is reported to center around misuse of campaign funds and abuse of power for personal gain by what is called in yesterday’s opinion the “redacted legislators.”

The Attorney General recused himself from the case for possible conflict of interest in July 2015 and his office turned the investigation over to Pascoe. Pascoe, from that point, was acting as the “state’s highest prosecutor.”

The key finding stated, “The initial correspondence from the Attorney General’s Office to both Pascoe and Chief Keel in July 2015, stated, without reservation, that the Attorney General’s Office was recused from the redacted legislators investigation, leaving only Pascoe as the state’s highest prosecutor in that matter.”

In addition, the Court found transferring the case to Pascoe included the right to order a State Grand Jury investigation into the case. “Pascoe has met his burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence he was vested with the authority to act as the Attorney General in the (probe), and that this authority necessarily included the power to initiate a state grand jury investigation.”

In March 2016, Wilson attempted to remove Pascoe from the case, attempting to replace him with a different solicitor who refused to take Pascoe’s place. At this point, Wilson attempted to politicize the issue by smearing Pascoe in the media.

Central to the issue was an attempt by Pascoe to initiate a Grand Jury investigation, something Wilson claimed only he had the authority to do. The Court tore apart Wilson’s interpretation of the State Grand Jury law.

Skydive Myrtle Beach FOIA Deadline Passes

The deadline for the Federal Aviation Administration to provide Skydive Myrtle Beach with copies of the alleged 112 investigated safety complaints against the company passed yesterday with silence.

The FAA issued a 73 page report, allegedly based on the safety violation documentation from Horry County Department of Airports. Horry County officials used the FAA report to shut down operations of Skydive Myrtle Beach at the Grand Strand Airport.

Skydive Myrtle Beach initially sought to get the documentation on the alleged safety violation reports through an FOIA request to Horry County. The response from Horry County attorney Arrigo Carotti was that the only information the county had was the 73 page FAA report.

According to Horry County officials, none of the underlying documentation, upon which the report was allegedly based, was available from the county, the governmental agency that supposedly documented the 112 safety violations in the first place.

Beginning last August, Skydive Myrtle Beach sent an FOIA request to the FAA for all documentation related to the 112 safety violations and any other documentation used to generate the 73 page FAA report.

The FAA denied the first FOIA request in October 2015 stating the request was too broad. A second FOIA request was sent by Skydive Myrtle Beach to the FAA, which was accepted.

The following FOIA status report was sent by email from Duke Taylor of the FAA to Skydive Myrtle Beach owner Aaron Holly on January 21, 2016:

“On Jan 21, 2016, at 3:49 PM, duke.taylor@faa.gov wrote:

“Mr. Holly by statute your response is due February 2, 2016.

“At this time our tracking system shows the status as Search and Review.

D”

Desperate Preparations for Atlantic Beach Bikefest

Two Ordinances aimed at the Atlantic Beach Bikefest and passed first reading by Myrtle Beach City Council appear acts of desperation.

Called the extraordinary events and public peace act ordinances, they could be lumped together under the title “Gall Doctrine” after Myrtle Beach Police Chief Warren Gall.

Why acts of desperation?

Randy Webster, Director of Horry County Emergency Management, was quoted in local media as calling Atlantic Beach Bikefest an uncontrollable event. Webster went on to say with all the planning that has gone into Bikefest “it’s still uncontrollable.”

With Myrtle Beach as the epicenter for the crowds that come to Bikefest and with planners calling the event uncontrollable, passing what amounts to de facto martial law ordinances was the answer from Myrtle Beach City Council.

Or are there ulterior motives?

Bobby Harrell Investigation – Is the Fix In?

Most of you probably already know that earlier this week the S.C. Supreme Court reversed a circuit court ruling that ordered the grand jury investigation into possible political corruption by S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell ended.

The Supreme Court ruled that Circuit Court Judge Casey Manning erred when he said the case belonged in the S.C. House Ethics Committee unless the committee found evidence of a possible criminal violation at which time it would refer its findings to the Attorney General’s office.

The Court ruled that the existence of the House Ethics Committee “does not affect the Attorney General’s authority to initiate a criminal investigation in any way.”

Bobby Harrell v. Alan Wilson, No Clear Advantage

Neither side seemed to come away with a clear advantage from yesterday’s S.C. Supreme Court arguments to determine whether the state grand jury investigating possible criminal ethics violations by S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell should continue.

Last month, S.C. Circuit Court Judge Casey Manning ruled that a state grand jury investigation into alleged ethics violations by Harrell should be terminated.

S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson appealed to the Supreme Court to overturn Manning’s ruling and allow the investigation to continue, leading to yesterday’s hearing.

Bobby Harrell v. Alan Wilson at Supreme Court Today

The S.C. Supreme Court will hear arguments beginning at 1:30 p.m. today on the continuing controversy over who has the right to investigate possibly illegal actions by S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell.

The case originally dates from an alleged ethics complaint brought to S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson by the libertarian South Carolina Policy Council. It included allegations that Harrell used his influence as Speaker to obtain a contract for his pharmaceutical supply business and improperly appointed his brother to a judicial candidate screening committee.

(In South Carolina, the legislature appoints a panel that screens judicial applicants and sends recommendations back to the legislature which votes on the recommendations for final approval of the judges. To further complicate the situation, many of the applicants are former legislators.)

The complaint also questioned the use of approximately $324,000 of Harrell’s campaign funds to reimburse himself for costs associated with trips in his personal airplane.

Supreme Court Rules Bobby Harrell Investigation May Continue

The S.C. Supreme Court ruled earlier today that the state grand jury, Attorney General Alan Wilson and SLED may continue with an investigation into possible ethics and criminal violations by S. C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell.

This reverses a ruling made after a May 12th hearing in District Court, by Judge Casey Manning, which ordered the investigation halted and the grand jury disbanded.

In his ruling, Manning stated that the S.C. House Ethics Committee has exclusive jurisdiction over investigation of ethics violations by Harrell or other members of the House and only the Ethics Committee can refer an investigation to the AG or grand jury.

Bobby Harrell vs. Alan Wilson – An Uneven Fight?

The ongoing legal challenge over whether S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson can use the State Grand Jury to investigate ethics violation allegations against S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell will go a long way to answering the question of whether Harrell is the most powerful individual in the state.

Attorneys representing Harrell challenged Wilson’s right to investigate Harrell during a March 21, 2014 hearing before S.C. Circuit Court Judge Casey Manning.

Should Manning rule in Harrell’s favor, he will effectively establish in law what has been long established in fact, namely, S.C. legislators are above the law.