Tag: Heather Crawford

Clemmons Lowest Rated of Three Applicants for Horry County Master-in-Equity

It is now two weeks since the Horry County Legislative Delegation cancelled a public meeting to publicly vote on a nomination for Horry County Master-in-Equity.
State law requires such votes to be held in public and the S. C. Supreme Court upheld that requirement in a 1996 decision.
Instead, the Horry County delegation passed a letter (to Gov. Henry McMaster) around for signature, during daily business at the statehouse, to nominate Alan Clemmons as Master-in-Equity for Horry County.
Only three members of the delegation, Reps. Kevin Hardee and William Bailey and Sen. Greg Hembree refused to sign the letter.
And this was done after some behind the scenes moves to have two of the three candidates who originally applied for the job withdraw their candidacy.
Grand Strand Daily has learned that Sen. Stephen Goldfinch, who represents only a very small number of Horry County citizens in his Senate District, called the other two candidates and told them that Clemmons had a majority of the votes from the delegation, that the handwriting was on the wall for Clemmons to win the nomination. Goldfinch, reportedly, told the other two candidates it would be best for them to withdraw from the race to help their chances for nomination for a judgeship in the future.
Grand Strand Daily acquired the reports on each candidate from the S. C. Bar Association Judicial Qualifications Committee. According to those reports, Clemmons was the lowest rated of the three candidates.
Candidates are rated in nine categories. Candidate Charles Jordan received the rating “Qualified” in three of those categories and “Well Qualified” in the other six. Candidate Douglas Zayicek received “Qualified” in four categories and “Well Qualified” in five categories. Clemmons received only “Qualified” in all nine categories.

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Swamp Closes Ranks to Support Clemmons’ Judicial Nomination

The machinations to get Alan Clemmons into the position of Horry County Master-in-Equity have skated along the very edge of state law during the entire process.
It would take a full investigation and the determination of a public prosecutor to decide whether the process actually stepped into the area of illegality, but there are enough questions to warrant such an investigation.
Either way, a study of the timeline of events, as well as the events themselves, demonstrate the way in which those in “the swamp”, (Donald Trump’s term for the political system that he said needed ‘sweeping ethics reform’ in order to “make our government honest once again”), works to advance the ambitions of the members in this group.
Clemmons won the state primary for nomination to his 10th term in office as a state representative for SC House District 107 on June 9, 2020.
On June 20, 2020, the SC Judicial Merit Selection Commission issued a media release announcing it was accepting applications for judicial offices named in the release. Included in that release was the statement, “A vacancy will exist in the office currently held by the Honorable Cynthia Graham Howe, Master in Equity, Horry County. The successor will serve a new term of that office, which will expire December 31, 2027.”
Four days later the JMSC issued a “Media Release Amended” in which the only change was removal of the advertisement for applications for the Horry County Master in Equity position. The chairman of the JMSC for 2020 was Horry County Sen. Luke Rankin.
An inquiry to the JMSC about the elimination of the Horry County position elicited the following email response, “JMSC issued a media release on June 20, 2020 announcing screening for Horry County Master in Equity (Judge Howe’s seat) and the successor to serve a new term to expire December 31, 2027. Since the new term would not begin until January 1, 2022, a subsequent media release was issued, deleting the seat from the 2020 screening.”

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Gov. McMaster Tries to Keep I-73 Project Alive

Gov. Henry McMaster requested the General Assembly appropriate $300 million, from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds the state received from the federal government, to construction of Interstate 73 as one of the items in the executive budget he submitted to the legislative body earlier this week.
McMaster made good on the promise he made to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce at an October 2021 press conference when he said he would request the I-73 funding from the General Assembly.
Traditionally, executive budgets submitted by governors of this state have received minimal consideration before being shelved and ignored when the SC House writes the budget. There is no reason to believe the same won’t happen with the governor’s request for I-73 funding.
McMaster presented a funding plan for the I-73 project which consisted of $800 million from the state, including the $300 million which is actually federal funds given to the state, an additional $450 million from the federal government and $350 million from the local governments in Horry County.
However, Chamber President Karen Riordan attempted to spin the governor’s remarks at the October press conference as a pledge that the I-73 project would receive $300 million from the state. She was joined in that spin effort by Rep. Case Brittain, who in his first year in the SC House was made president of the I-73/74/75 Corridor Association, which is a high-sounding name for a Chamber created entity.
In addition, Congressman Tom Rice and SC Rep. Russell Fry were prominent at the press conference and enthusiastic in their statements on I-73 funding. Fry, of course, announced in August that he was challenging Rice for the Congressional seat because Rice has been a failure to his constituents in the 7th Congressional District. GSD has said over and over that Fry is really a clone of Rice who hopes to gain Chamber support for his Congressional run should Rice continue to falter with voters.
Actually, the press conference and statements by the various elected officials was nothing more than an attempt to keep the I-73 project on some kind of life support.
What has happened since that October press conference?

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More on Crawford Dismissal from CCU

One week ago, local media posted stories on events surrounding the dismissal, in November 2019, of Horry County Council member Cam Crawford from his position at Coastal Carolina University.
According to the stories and documents released by CCU, an investigation into Title IX complaints by a female student who also worked under the supervision of Crawford was conducted by the university. Findings from that investigation supported ‘continuous physical contact with student employee supervisees, which included hugging and touching of hand and/or arm,’ and evidence supporting ‘kissing of a student employee’s head’.
Crawford responded to questions from the media claiming the woman misinterpreted his “Southern mannerisms”, that he did not believe he did anything wrong and that there were political motivations behind the media being informed of his dismissal from CCU.
Nevertheless, a female student registered a complaint with the university, the university conducted an investigation and Crawford is no longer employed by CCU.
Crawford’s response brings to mind statements by former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo when Cuomo resigned as governor after 11 women came forward claiming Cuomo had sexually harassed them.
Cuomo was quoted in media as stating, “As an Italian, I have always kissed and hugged in a casual way, I’ve never crossed the line with anyone… I accept full responsibility, I slipped, but there are political motivations behind the accusations, and I am sure New Yorkers will understand,”
Strikingly similar statements from two politicians on opposite ends of the political spectrum, except Cuomo took responsibility while Crawford did not.
But the similarities between the two cases end there. Once women began stepping forward with accusations against Cuomo, stories continued in the New York media, Cuomo’s former political allies distanced themselves from him and ultimately Cuomo resigned as governor.
In Horry County, Crawford’s leaving CCU employ remained a secret for two years and there has been virtually no comment from other local politicians.
Freedom of Information requests to CCU from two local newspapers were handled completely differently. According to a story in the Sun News, the newspaper filed a FOIA request with the university in October 2021, requesting documents related to “any disciplinary action taken by Coastal…including notices of termination or suspension, reprimands , etc.” as well as “any complaints or other documents submitted to Coastal by students, staff, professors, administration or the public regarding Mr. Crawford, his employment, his job performance and his conduct/behavior.”

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Crawford Disclosures on CCU Termination Raise Political Concerns

Recent disclosures in a story by MyHorryNews.com about issues surrounding the termination of employment of Horry County Council member Cam Crawford at Coastal Carolina University raise a number of questions about the way of politics in Horry County.
The report stated, according to public documents acquired through Freedom of Information Act request, Crawford was terminated for alleged sexual misconduct with a student who was also an employee of the department in which Crawford worked. This misconduct included unwanted touching and kissing on the head.
The student reportedly reported these incidents to Crawford’s supervisor and the university instituted a Title IX investigation into Crawford’s actions. According to the documents received through FOIA, the report stated the results of the investigation concluded, “the evidence does support a finding that Mr. Crawford violated University policies UNIV-466 Title IX Statement of Non-Discrimination and UNIV-468 Sexual Misconduct Policy.”
Crawford was quoted in an email response to comment by MyHorryNews.com as stating, “Political correctness or standing too close to someone’s safe space should not cost anyone their job, but that’s what happened. My southern mannerisms, friendly gestures, and normal greetings amongst friends were used against me. The cancel culture phenomenon cost me my job.”
Several of the local political hacks, commenting on the story on Facebook, supported Crawford referring to the story as a political hit job.
What is striking about the comments made by Crawford, including a formal statement he requested the university include in his file, is that nowhere was he quoted as expressing regret or an apology for his actions causing discomfort to the student employee involved.
Whatever Crawford did, he made a young student and employee (male or female) under his supervision feel uncomfortable by his actions. The Southern mannerisms Crawford so quickly invoked also include apologizing for causing such discomfort regardless of your original intent.
Crawford owed the victim a public apology, which never came.
Instead, within days of being notified of the investigation, Crawford reportedly had a law firm send a letter to the university requesting secrecy.

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How Thoroughly Will JMSC Screen Alan Clemmons for Master in Equity Position?

Former state Rep. Alan Clemmons will be screened by the Judicial Merit Selection Commission tomorrow to determine whether he merits recommendation from the commission for the Horry County Master in Equity judicial position.
The questions asked of Clemmons will be a litmus test of how serious the JMSC, composed of six state senators and six state representatives, is of recommending qualified candidates to become judges.
There are certainly questions surrounding the Clemmons’ candidacy that should be answered to the satisfaction of both commission members and the general public.
Last year, five weeks after winning the Republican Primary for nomination on the general election ballot for what would have been his tenth term as the representative for House District 107, Clemmons resigned his seat as a representative.
By waiting to resign until after winning the primary, Clemmons was required to submit a sworn affidavit to the S. C. Election Commission explaining he was resigning for “non-political reasons” in order for a new Republican candidate to be determined by a special primary election.
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”.
Clemmons’ affidavit cited spending more time with his family and new clients for his law firm who would “require a large investment of my time and focus.”
But, was there another reason?
Horry County Master in Equity Cynthia Graham Howe announced around the time of the June 2020 primary that she would retire in July 2021 at the end of her current term in office. State law requires state lawmakers to be out of office for at least one year before they are eligible to be appointed to a judgeship.
According to state law, the burden of proof for justifying “non-political reasons” lies solely with the resigning candidate.

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Graham Allen Campaign Filings Raise Eyebrows but not Profile

Quarterly reports on contributions and expenditures by political campaigns are often seen as guidelines of the viability of a candidate.
Often, too much emphasis is placed on the contribution side of the ledger. Actually, it is the value realized from the expenditure side in raising the profile and message of a candidate that provides a more accurate picture of viability.
For that reason, the recent filing by Graham Allen, the non-resident candidate for the 7th Congressional District Republican nomination, raises some questions.
According to the Allen campaign’s most recent filing with the Federal Election Commission, a total of $646,000 (in round numbers) has been raised in contributions over the last two calendar quarters. Added to this amount is a $92,000 loan which brings total receipts for the campaign to date of $738,000, a seemingly good amount for a first-time candidate.
However, according to the filing, the Allen campaign has spent a total of $435,000 over those same two periods with no appreciable increase in Allen’s name recognition or message among 7th District voters. No tv or radio ads, no mailers, no billboards, nothing!
Having never lived in the 7th District and only a recent resident of South Carolina in the Greenville area, Allen was always going to have a difficult time getting voters to know who he is, much less what he stands for. After the reported expenditure of $435,000 this hasn’t changed.
When Allen first announced his candidacy for the 7th District Congressional seat currently held by Tom Rice, my first thought was Allen doesn’t know anybody in the 7th District and nobody knows him.
It now appears that thought was probably mistaken. It appears possible that Allen has had some type of contact with Alan Clemmons, Horry County’s own master of spending campaign funds while not advancing a campaign.
According to Clemmons’ campaign filings with the S. C. Ethics Commission, he spent approximately $480,000 from his campaign funds during the six election cycles from 2008-2018 inclusive but never had an opponent in either the primary or general elections in those years. Included in the $480,000 of expenditures were payments totaling approximately $150,000 to Heather Ammons Crawford noted as “campaign services” or “contract services” before she was elected to the House.

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Horry County Taxpayers Betrayed in Governor’s I-73 Plan

Gov. Henry McMaster travelled from Columbia to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce headquarters Monday to unveil his “Potential Funding Plan” for Interstate 73 from its eastern terminus at U. S. 17 in Briarcliffe to connection with I-95 near Dillon.
It was a duplicitous move by the governor when one considers that all of the $795 million from state funds recommended by McMaster will be spent entirely in Dillon and Marion counties. McMaster’s funding plan for completion of the Horry County section of I-73 is placed on the backs of Horry County taxpayers with possibly $150 million of federal funds being thrown in.
Even by standards of a South Carolina state government that continuously uses Horry as a donor county to the rest of the state, the plan is outrageous. It is outright Marxist philosophy that our “so-called conservative Republican” elected officials claim to fight against.
In 1875, Karl Marx wrote the economic and political philosophy of his “communism” was “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” In other words, transfer the wealth from the rich to the poor. That is exactly what is being done with Horry County tax dollars so Dillon and Marion taxpayers don’t have to contribute any locally collected tax dollars.
In addition, that $350 million of local contribution from the county and the cities would be better spent on existing infrastructure needs such as Hwy 90, Hwy 905, the SELL road and the proposed road around Conway to 701 for the county, infrastructure and police needs in Myrtle Beach and parking and other infrastructure needs in North Myrtle Beach.
Furthermore, the elected officials representing Horry County voters who showed up to praise the plan, Congressman Tom Rice, state legislators Sen. Luke Rankin, Sen. Greg Hembree, Sen. Stephen Goldfinch, Rep. Russell Fry, Rep. Case Brittain, and Rep. Heather Crawford, county council members Dennis DiSabato, Orton Bellamy, Johnny Vaught, Bill Howard, Tyler Servant and Gary Loftus, Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune and city council members Jackie Hatley, Gregg Smith and John Krajc and North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley, have a lot of splainin’ to do for supporting the plan.
Rice, Brittain, Crawford, Bellamy, Vaught, Howard and Servant are all up for reelection in 2022. Bethune, Jackie Hatley, Smith and Marilyn Hatley are up for reelection in the upcoming November 2021 city elections. Fry is giving up his statehouse seat to challenge Rice for Congress. Will the voters reject these liberal Marxist spendthrifts?
The entire funding plan projects $795 million from the state, $430 million from the feds and $350 million combined from Horry County, Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach. None of that money is approved to be spent on I-73 at this time. Dillon and Marion counties are not projected to appropriate any money.
If Horry County and the cities send $350 million of hospitality fee revenue to the state to spend on I-73 rather than local roads, the net loss to county taxpayers will be $700 million – the $350 million sent to the state and that same $350 million that could, but will not, be spent to improve existing roads.

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Politicians for Sale?

Attempting to keep political decisions free from outside influence has been a problem virtually since the beginning of the American Republic.
During a recent county council meeting, a woman told council members she was involved in a group that was studying campaign donors and votes on projects the donors were involved with in order to see if any council members were apparently giving preferential treatment to their donors.
But the question of influence is not restricted to campaign donations.
SC Code 8-13-700 states:
(A) No public official, public member, or public employee may knowingly use his official office, membership, or employment to obtain an economic interest for himself, a family member, an individual with whom he is associated, or a business with which he is associated.
(B) No public official, public member, or public employee may make, participate in making, or in any way attempt to use his office, membership, or employment to influence a governmental decision in which he, a family member, an individual with whom he is associated, or a business with which he is associated has an economic interest.
A politician who is a principal in a political consulting business that accepts consulting fees from a candidate then endorses or arranges endorsements from other politicians can appear to be using their official office to help the election of a candidate from whom they are accepting fees.
This is the case of Crescent Communications, in which Russell Fry, Heather Crawford and Cam Crawford all participate as campaign consultants. In both 2016 and 2018, Crescent Communications ran the campaigns of local politicians who were later endorsed by one or more of the Crescent Communications crew. Two attorneys I spoke with believe this violates SC Code section 8-13-700 stated above.
Now Fry is running for Congress. Instead of using his associates in Crescent Communications, he has hired Ivory Tusk Consulting, in which fellow SC House member R. J. May is associated. It will be interesting to see what endorsements, if any, Fry obtains in this race and from whom they come.
Influence can be more subtle than money.
As a member of the SC House, Alan Clemmons not only endorsed, but also heavily campaigned for the election of Stephen Goldfinch as senator, the election of Case Brittain as a representative and the reelection of Sen. Luke Rankin.
Clemmons hired Heather Crawford before she was elected to the SC House to do consulting and constituent services for him. Clemmons’ campaign account filings show he paid Crawford $150,000 over the course of five years for these services but failed to replace her when Crawford was elected to be a representative.

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Russell Fry – Political Strategist or Political Opportunist

The political metamorphosis of Russell Fry in the last several weeks has been eye opening as Fry has gone from silence for six months on incumbent Rep. Tom Rice’s vote to impeach former President Donald Trump to now attempting to be the biggest Rice critic and Trump supporter in the race for the Republican nomination for the 7th Congressional District seat.
As Fry has attempted to build his Trump message, he has styled himself as a strong conservative, small government, individual liberty candidate. However, during his political career to this point, Fry has been known as one of the “Chamber crowd” of politicians pushing the Interstate 73 message on voters.
Fry was one of the co-sponsors of a bill introduced into the legislature in 2019, which would have forced Horry County Government to donate all revenue from a countywide hospitality fee to the construction of an interstate highway rather than allowing county government to return the revenue collected within city limits to the cities and to spend the revenue collected in the unincorporated areas on other infrastructure and public safety needs to support the locals and tourists who pay the fee.
Sponsoring such a bill is hardly the action of a small government conservative.
Fry apparently got his start in local politics while a student in 2008 working as a consultant and providing other unspecified campaign services to former state Rep. Thad Viers. He again was paid for unspecified campaign services to Viers during the 2010 election cycle. Viers resigned his statehouse seat in 2012 and ultimately spent 18 months in federal prison for a money laundering conviction.
Shortly after graduating from law school and passing the bar, Fry formed the political consulting firm Crescent Communications, in early 2013, just in time to run the campaign of Mark Lazarus to fill the unexpired term of Tom Rice who resigned as Horry County Council chairman to enter Congress.
Lazarus won the special election, reelection in 2014 to a full term, then, lost in 2018. Fry and the other two members of the Crescent Communications team, Heather and Cam Crawford, ran all three campaigns for Lazarus, according to state ethics records.
Heather Crawford was already in the SC House of Representatives having won a special election to fill the unexpired term of Viers in 2012 and reelection in the 2012 general election for House District 68. Cam Crawford would soon win a special election for Horry County Council District 6 to fill the unexpired term of Bob Grabowski.
In 2015, Fry made it a trifecta of elected positions for the Crescent Communications team by winning a special election to fill the unexpired term of Nelson Hardwick in House District 106. All three received liberal donations from Chamber members, Chamber associated PACs and other special interests whose prime goal is the construction of I-73.

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