Tag: Luke Rankin

Dark Money in Horry County Politics

An increase of dark money from several opaque political action committees (PACs) over the last couple of election cycles has introduced a new dimension to politics in Horry County.
Dark money is defined as funds raised for the purpose of influencing elections by nonprofit organizations, generally called Super PACs, that are not required to disclose the identities of their donors. The use of dark money allows donors to far exceed normal campaign contribution limits while remaining anonymous.
The 2010 Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission gave rise to what are called “Super PACs”. Since that decision, these Super PACs are considered political entities which can raise and spend unlimited sums to influence elections, so long as they don’t explicitly coordinate with a candidate.
However, those lines have become increasingly blurred in recent years. It appears what has emerged in South Carolina are what could be termed ‘PACs for hire’ ready to jump into campaigns when called upon.
Of interest locally are three PACs who advocated in two local elections with negative messages about a specific candidate in each race. The candidates targeted were opposed by candidates who, I would submit, were the favored candidates of the local Cabal.

click on headline above to read more

Lazarus’ Last Desperate Gasp for a Win

During the last several months the Mark Lazarus campaign has tried everything to change the history of his previous term as county chairman and to present a false image of Lazarus as a successful leader, which of course he was not.
That is unless you count getting the entire county work force mad at you; spending county revenue on a project that should be paid for by the state and federal governments if it is to be built at all and allowing unrestricted development to outpace the local infrastructure in roads, stormwater mitigation and public services as successful accomplishments.
As a last-ditch effort to pull out victory, the Lazarus campaign resorted to a tactic that was successful for Luke Rankin two years ago. It found a PAC to spend dark money for a hit piece on Gardner.
However, instead of the outrageous false and defamatory accusations made about Rankin’s opponent John Gallman two years ago, the one against Gardner is barely a whimper.
It was much less of a thing than the attempt Lazarus, Chris Eldridge and Arrigo Carotti tried to pull to keep Gardner from taking office as chairman four years ago only speaks to how clean Gardner has been.
Four years ago, it was a completely false memo about fictional allegations all, apparently, the figment of Carotti’s imagination. The supposed source Carotti said gave him the initial information for his five-page memo called the memo “mostly fiction” after the Carotti’s attempt at being an author went public and a SLED investigation found no credibility in anything Carotti wrote.

click on headline above to read more

The Cabal or the People, the Choice for County Chairman

The primary runoff between incumbent county chairman Johnny Gardner and challenger Mark Lazarus is a contest for who will control county decisions for the next decade – The best interests of the People or the best interests of the Cabal.
Will it be Gardner, the candidate who attempts to look out for the interests of the People? Or will it be Lazarus who is funded heavily by the Cabal because, in the past, he has always worked for the Cabal?
How do you spell Cabal politicians – Bethune, Rankin, Brittain, Vaught, Howard, DiSabato, Lazarus
Who endorsed Mark Lazarus – Bethune, Rankin, Brittain, Vaught, Howard, DiSabato
That should be reason enough for citizens, who do not want to see the county entirely run by the Cabal, to know why not to vote for Lazarus on Tuesday for chairman of Horry County Council.
There are other reasons.
Lazarus endorsed Tom Rice for reelection. The citizens soundly rejected Rice in the first round of the primary.

click on headline above to read more

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.”

click on headline above to read more

Jay Jordan Another ‘Good Ol’ Boy’ in State Senate Bid

The special Republican Primary for state Senate District 31 next Tuesday presents a classic ‘good ol’ boy’ versus outsider matchup between current House member Jay Jordan and businessman Mike Reichenbach.
It will be a test of how dedicated Republican voters are to see change in the way politics are conducted in South Carolina.
House incumbent Jordan has Starboard Communications, the political consulting firm of Walter Whetsell, running his campaign, which should be a red flag for voters who want change. Whetsell is the consultant for Congressman Tom Rice and is closely tied to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and its Interstate 73 project.
Another interesting fact is how the South Carolina Association for Justice (SCAJ) has provided maximum contributions to the Jordan campaign. SCAJ has its own named political action committee, SCAJ PAC, which gave the maximum to Jordan. Then, there are 10 more associated PACs, Justice PACs 1-10, all of which have the same address as the SCAJ PAC and each of these supposedly individual PACs gave maximum contributions to the Jordan campaign on the same day – December 6, 2021, according to Jordan’s campaign disclosure filings.
Eleven supposedly individual PACs, all with the same address as the South Carolina Association for Justice PAC, appears on the surface to be an attempt by an association of lawyers to circumvent the state’s campaign finance law.
Supposedly independent PACs with the same address have been funded by the Grand Strand Business Alliance, which is funded by the Chamber, to support Chamber candidates in the past. It may be technically legal but it doesn’t pass the smell test.
It should be noted these lawyer PACs provided the same type of support to Horry County Sen. Luke Rankin in his 2020 reelection campaign. That campaign and its internal associations are now the subject of a lawsuit by Rankin opponent John Gallman.

click on above headline to read more

Fry Campaign Filled with Terminological Inexactitudes

The New Year begins a five-month sprint for the 7th Congressional District Republican nomination among 10 announced challengers to incumbent Tom Rice.
Much nonsense will be heard from the various campaigns as candidates attempt to attract the attention of voters.
However, to date, the campaign of state Rep. Russell Fry has been the King of Terminological Inexactitudes, to use a phrase first coined Winston Churchill in 1906 to describe lies in parliamentary debate.
Then, a recent video appeal for campaign donations, featured on his @RussellFrySC Facebook page, sounded absolutely desperate in its appeal for money. I have heard many comments about the video including how the timing was bad, the appearance was awful and the desperation in the plea for money was apparent.
In an effort to concoct some type of appealing image to voters, Fry’s campaign pronouncements have been full of catch phrases designed to appeal conservative voters.
It took Fry eight months after Tom Rice voted to impeach former President Donald Trump to first denounce Rice’s vote. To hear Fry tell it now in campaign videos, he is the prime defender of America First values to which Rice is a traitor.
But Rice and Fry are cut from the same cloth. Both have staked their political careers on catering to the whims and wishes of the Myrtle Beach cabal. Fry was very happy to share the stage with Rice several months ago during a Chamber staged event promoting Interstate 73.
No politician can possibly be true to conservative fiscal values and also support the I-73 boondoggle. But Fry has always been a Chamber politician, just look at his donors through the years. If Rice doesn’t win reelection, the Chamber would like Fry to be the one to replace him to keep an elitist Chamber agenda voice in Congress, even though that has not meant any significant federal money for I-73. A vote for Fry is as much a vote for the elitist Chamber agenda as a vote for Rice.

click on headline above to read more

North Myrtle Beach Council Members Vote for I-73 Funding – Or Did They?

North Myrtle Beach City Council voted at last night’s meeting to provide $1.7 million annually to construction of Interstate 73 contingent on so many variables it really isn’t a provision at all.
Among the contingencies required for North Myrtle Beach to provide any money to I-73 is a requirement for the other cities and counties that would supposedly benefit from construction of the highway to also contribute money for construction of the road.
In addition, North Myrtle Beach restricted use of any money it may provide to actual construction costs. Specifically prohibited from use of any money provided by North Myrtle Beach are right of way acquisition, engineering and legal services, construction documents, environmental studies and reports of any kind. Funds from North Myrtle Beach may not be used on SC 22 or any other roadway and actual construction must begin before December 31, 2024.
Despite the headlines of local television stations last night, the North Myrtle Beach resolution contains so many restrictions and prior requirements from other local governmental agencies in three counties as to make it virtually meaningless.
The North Myrtle Beach resolution varies widely from a proposal by Gov. Henry McMaster during a press conference at the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce in October 2021.
According to the governor’s proposed $1.6 billion funding plan, the state will be asked to provide $795 million for the I-73 project all of which will be spent in Dillon and Marion counties. The federal government will be asked to provide $450 million, most of which will be spent in Marion and Dillon counties. Local governments in Horry County were asked to provide $350 million for construction of the road in Horry County. None of the cities in Dillon and Marion counties nor the county governments themselves were asked to provide any money toward construction of I-73.
The governor’s plan only included funding for construction of what is really an interstate spur road from I-95 south of Dillon to the eastern terminus of the road at the end of the current SC 22 in the Briarcliffe area.

click on headline above to read more

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.

click on headline above to read more

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.

click on headline above to read more

Questions for Clemmons Judicial Screening – The Public Has a Right to Know

If we have learned anything about the political arena since 2016, it is that American voters are sick and tired of the back room, secret deals that serve the self-interests of politicians, often at the expense of the public, and the accompanying political spin used to justify them.
Next month, Alan Clemmons will appear before the Judicial Merit Selection Commission (JMSC) to begin the official process in his hope for appointment as the new Master in Equity Judge for Horry County.
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. The cost of the special primary election was approximately 40,000 taxpayer dollars.
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? According to state law, the burden of proof for justifying “non-political reasons” lies solely with the resigning candidate.
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.
If Clemmons is certified as being qualified for the Master in Equity job by the JMSC, the next step in the process is for the Horry County legislative delegation to vote to recommend a candidate for the job to Gov. Henry McMaster.
After a background check, the governor then decides whether or not to submit nomination of the candidate to the full General Assembly for approval. The entire judicial selection process has been criticized by various organizations in the state as giving an unfair advantage to former state legislators.
According to sources, each legislative delegation member has a weighted percentage vote based on voters in the county represented and time in office. A candidate needs to secure over 50% of those percentage votes to be recommended. The highest individual weighted percentage sits with Sen. Luke Rankin.

click on above headline to read more