Tag: Grand Strand Business Alliance

Lazarus Campaign Kickoff Attempts to Rewrite History

Mark Lazarus officially kicked off his campaign to recapture the chairmanship of Horry County Council Thursday night surrounded by his friends – Myrtle Beach Chamber and Grand Strand Business Alliance members as well as other members of the local cabal.
From the talking point clips and quotes attributed to Lazarus in local media over the last several days, it is obvious Lazarus is trying to rewrite the history of his years as chairman from 2013-2018.
Lazarus pledged to get county government ‘back on track’ when the only track it has left was the autocracy track the Lazarus years led it down toward funding I-73 and other initiatives to benefit special interests.
The most comical quote I have seen attributed to Lazarus is his promise of “investing in police services”, something he absolutely refused to do when chairman. There was a reason the police and fire organizations of Horry County endorsed current Chairman Johnny Gardner four years ago, in his run against Lazarus, and it wasn’t because Lazarus did anything to improve their lives.
The most memorable quote by Lazarus in the 2018 campaign was when he called the public safety personnel of the county “Thugs” late in the campaign because they asked him difficult questions about how they were treated at a campaign event.
In fact, Lazarus was not popular with the county employees in general as he, in coordination with former administrator Chris Eldridge, treated county employees as ‘serfs’ subject to the whims of the ruling duo.

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Russell Fry and His Cast of Cartoon Characters

You have to give Russell Fry credit, he and his campaign have come up with the most absolutely ridiculous political ad ever created.
For those of you who haven’t seen it, it is available for viewing on the Fry for Congress Facebook page.
Using a number of cartoon villains, the ad tries to paint a Tom Rice character as one of them, but fails in that message when they tell the Rice character to leave their Villains Anonymous meeting. The villains are obviously looking for a Rice protégé to support.
The use of a Lucifer character as one of the villains in the cartoon has drawn considerable criticism from the Christian conservatives in the district.
Fry has been notable for sending out numerous emails begging for campaign contributions while commissioning this ad, which was obviously filmed on a sound stage with professional actors and was not cheap.
Now, if the Fry campaign hires a professional script writer to come up with some sensible message to voters, maybe his next ads for television will at least make some kind of sense.
In the ad, Rice is portrayed as being against term limits because of his five terms in Congress. Now this is an interesting one. The normal proposed term limit amount for House members is three terms or six years. Fry is currently serving in his seventh year in the SC House, so he obviously does not believe in term limits for his current seat.
Fry says he supports term limits legislation. This is an old ploy used by many politicians. They will profess all day to be for term limits but never introduce or vote for a bill that would actually mandate term limits.

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Chamber Candidates Rice and Fry versus the Field in 7th Congressional District Race

When President Donald Trump ran for office in 2016, a major pledge of his candidacy was to “Drain the Swamp” of Washington, D.C., a phrase that attracted many voters.
Draining the swamp included key items like clamping down on the influence of lobbyists and ending the practice of politicians being the puppets of ‘big money donors.’ As was said at the time, big money controls politics, often at the expense of average citizens.
While Trump was able to partially drain some of the influence of the swamp, the idea that more draining must be done still rests in the minds of many voters, especially Republicans.
The special interests in Horry County, the lobbyists and big money donors, include the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, the Grand Strand Business Alliance and the cabal associated with them.
One hears an almost constant din from the Chamber, the GSBA and their allies about the need for Interstate 73 and the federal, state and local tax dollars needed to build it. Could it be because members of the cabal stand to gain financially from construction of I-73?
Interstate 73 has been the subject of recent Facebook ads by the South Carolina Taxpayers Association asking the voters of South Carolina to call SC Senate President Thomas Alexander and request the General Assembly to address the maintenance and upgrading needed on all the roads throughout the state rather than a ‘special interest’ project like I-73.
Rice went to Congress nearly 10 years ago with the promise to get the money needed to build I-73. It hasn’t happened. The Chamber, to date, continues to support a Rice reelection even after Rice’s vote to impeach President Donald Trump made him extremely unpopular with the majority of voters in the 7th Congressional District.
SC Rep. Russell Fry took eight months, after the impeachment vote, before he made any public remarks about Rice’s vote to impeach President Trump. It was only after Fry announced his intention to challenge Rice in the upcoming Republican Primary that he began to criticize Rice and the Fry criticism of Rice to date has been lukewarm at best, rather like criticizing a family member.

Efforts to Debunk Karon Mitchell Lawsuit Flawed

(Ed. Note – Some negative reactions heard locally to the Karon Mitchell lawsuit are like the Chinese fireworks pictured above – loud and colorful but, in the end, just smoke.)

On April 5, 2018 at 3:05 p.m., Karon Mitchell filed a lawsuit against the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce (MBACC), the City of Myrtle Beach and Horry County alleging misuse of tourism development fee (TDF) and accommodations tax (ATax) public funds.

In response to the lawsuit, MBACC issued a blanket denial of the allegations and at least one local television news outlet in the area attempted to, in its words, “fact check” the allegations.

The MBACC response came in a media statement issued April 6, 2018, by board chair Carla Schuessler:

“Today we had an opportunity to review the lawsuit that was filed against us, and l am disappointed to see that we will have to divert our time and resources to address this case which is full of conjecture, innuendo and inaccurate statements. The Chamber complies with all applicable laws regarding the use of public funds and selects vendors based on best business practices.”

The Chamber statement went on to say it will hold a press conference next week to accurately address the statements in the lawsuit.

The local news outlet broadcast a story April 6, 2018 where it claimed to find discrepancies, between claims in the lawsuit and MBACC public disclosure documents, with respect to public money spent with what are called in the lawsuit “crony companies.” According to the lawsuit, crony companies are companies formed by former and/or current Chamber employees and, in at least one instance, a company owned by a MBACC executive board member.

This appeared to be much ado about nothing as the MBACC public disclosure documents used generic descriptions instead of specific vendor names for some of the expenses listed. If those challenged expense amounts did not go to any of the crony companies, next week’s MBACC press conference can “accurately address” those statements and tell us exactly what company did receive the payments.

Another area addressed in the media story was a statement in the lawsuit that “the chamber funneled tourism tax money through the crony companies to contribute to politicians supported by the chamber.” 

Big Money vs Citizens in District 56 Election – Big Money Wins (Updated)

The special election for SC House District 56 has come down to a contest between a big money candidate on one side and a candidate for the citizens on the other.

I am calling this a two man race between the citizens’ choice Dwyer Scott and the big money choice of Tim McGinnis. With all due respect to third candidate Adam Miller, who will make a fine candidate in the future, he got caught in a vise in this election.

Scott has been endorsed by the Coastal Carolina Young Republican Club, the steering committee of the Make Myrtle Beaches Free, Clean and Safe (a group with 8,351 citizen members according to its Facebook page) and former Horry County Council candidate Ethan Leyshon.

McGinnis has been endorsed by the Coastal Carolina Association of Realtors (many of whom belong to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce), the S.C. Education Association and the Carolina Forest Republican Club. The Carolina Forest Republican Club was disbanded in 2015 with no record of it officially being started up again.

The McGinnis campaign website advertised a meet and greet at McGinnis’ Carolina Forest restaurant with U.S. Rep. Tom Rice and McGinnis. In an email exchange with Scott, Rice said he was supporting McGinnis.

However, the elephant in the room, one that McGinnis has attempted to disclaim all knowledge of is the group paying for his television ads, radio ads, most of his direct mail and possibly some of his signs. That group is the Citizens for Conservative Values (CCV), a political action committee (PAC) registered with the IRS as a non-profit 527 committee.

When I asked McGinnis about CCV and the ads, he claimed to have no knowledge of CCV or the ads and said he hadn’t even seen them. He repeatedly made the same claim to various media and other groups when asked about the ads. As Shakespeare would put it, “Methinks he doth protest too much.”

McGinnis Denies Chamber Support, Records Indicate Differently

Several times in the past week, including a Friday October 13th conversation with this reporter, S.C. House District 56 candidate Tim McGinnis denied receiving money contributions or support for his campaign from the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.

“I have not received any money from the Chamber,” McGinnis said.

The Chamber and its cronies supporting McGinnis in the House District 56 race is only a modest story. However, when McGinnis keeps denying any knowledge of this support, it becomes a big story, especially considering his former position as news anchor for WPDE television who also hosted a weekly political news show.

Television ads paid for by the “Citizens for Conservative Values” asking the voters of House District 56 to “Vote for Tim McGinnis, a conservative we can trust” began airing on local television and radio stations Monday October 9, 2017.

In my conversation with McGinnis, I asked him what he knew about the ads. McGinnis said, “I don’t know anything about those ads, I haven’t seen them.”

I asked McGinnis if the Chamber was responsible for the ads. He again denied any knowledge of the ads and repeated that statement several more times throughout our conversation to the point the statement sounded scripted.

I explained the following indisputable facts to McGinnis:

According to the S.C. Secretary of State website, Citizens for Conservative Values is a non-profit whose registered agent is Steve Chapman at 6000 North Ocean Boulevard, Myrtle Beach.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, whose information is derived from records released by the Internal Revenue Service, Citizens for Conservative Values files as a 527 Political Action Committee. According to those filings, the major contributor, in some years the only contributor, to Citizens for Conservative Values is the Grand Strand Business Alliance.

Gingrich, Myrtle Beach, Oil and Interstates

Grand Strand Business Alliance Candidates

The Grand Strand Business Alliance is smothering the airwaves, in these last days before Tuesday’s voting in the Myrtle Beach City Council elections, promoting the re-election of the incumbent council members.

The basic theme in these ads is business is up, the tourism initiative of the city council is working, there is no need to change the council makeup when the incumbents are doing such a great job.

And they are, but only for a select few.

These ads take the same vein as the Chamber’s ‘Oh yeah, it’s working’ ads promoting the alleged success of the one cent sales tax for tourism promotion.

Gingrich, Myrtle Beach, Oil and Interstates

Will Myrtle Beach Election Heat Up?

One more holiday shortened week remains for filing of candidates in the upcoming Myrtle Beach city elections.

Last week, the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce’s Grand Strand Business Alliance PAC sent out an expensive looking mailer supporting its ‘Dream Team’ – the four incumbents running for re-election.

The easiest way to win an election is to discourage challengers from filing and everybody understands now, if anyone doubted, that the Chamber, through the GSBA, will again be a strong player in the city election.

You would too if three of these incumbents steered approximately $70 million in public money into your budget.

I-73 Myths and Reality

A few days ago we were treated to reports of a new I-73 study by Parsons Brinckerhoff commissioned by the Grand Strand Business Alliance.

Local media reported that the new study found two previous studies commissioned by the Coastal Conservation League, advocating an upgraded expressway link to I-95, not credible. It further reported two previous studies completed by the Northeast Strategic Alliance and Dr. Don Schunk of CCU, advocating for construction of I-73, were credible.

Not really. The Parsons Brinckerhoff study questioned the cost of the CCL study as being too low, said a four-lane upgraded expressway would not be comparable in capacity to a six-lane interstate and performed some literary gymnastics with benefit-cost analyses and economic development benefits for the differing studies.

Republican Debate Turns Into Brawl

MB Republican Debate Disaster

The rough and tumble nature of Horry County politics was on display for all to see Thursday night at the debate for 7th Congressional Republican candidates.

Sponsored by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, Grand Strand Business Alliance, WMBF-TV and WPDE-TV, the debate turned into a shouting match when five of the candidates felt they were being ignored by the questioning media panel.

The candidates were apparently split into two groups by some entity controlling the questions. The top four polling candidates, Andre Bauer, Chad Prosser, Tom Rice and Jay Jordan, received the bulk of the questions during the first hour of the debate while the remaining five, Randal Wallace, Katherine Jenrette, Jim Mader, Renee Culler and Dick Withington, were virtually ignored.

After the apparent questioning trend was set in the first half hour of the debate, Wallace cut in to complain, “I filed to run for Congress and I’d like to answer a question.”