Tag: Mark Lazarus

Lazarus Letter to S.C. Election Commission Executive Director has Odor of Sour Grapes

Mark Lazarus sent a letter to South Carolina Election Commission Executive Director Howard Knapp last week expressing dissatisfaction with the explanation the commission gave to Horry County Council for the mishandling of approximately 1,400 ballots in the June 2022 primary runoff elections.
The letter included the following statements, “I am disappointed in the state election commission’s refusal to ensure this election be conducted in a fair and competent manner, or to offer any remedy to legitimize this election that was tainted by a failed absentee ballot outcome…The Election Commission claims in their response such an error is “unacceptable,” and yet the commission deems as acceptable the skewed election results it produced?”
And
“Now that the state election commission has admitted the mishandling of 1,400 Republican ballots in the Horry County Council chairman’s race that was determined by about 250 votes, what will be done to remedy this election and determine who really won…I look forward to your response in how this situation can be remedied, and the 1,400 absentee voters’ rights and votes are restored to this race.”
The first thing that must be stated is Johnny Gardner won the election. There is no question of that fact. The wrong ballots were initially mailed to approximately 1,400 Republican voters. However, there is nothing on record to indicate even one vote cast, as stipulated in state law, was not counted. There are no remedies necessary nor 1,400 missing votes to be restored!

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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.

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Lazarus Drops Appeal, Concedes Gardner Victory

Horry County Council Chairman candidate Mark Lazarus dropped his election protest appeal Tuesday acknowledging his second defeat by incumbent council chairman Johnny Gardner in as many elections.
This is the third election Lazarus lost for county chairman. In all three losses, Lazarus investigated protesting the results, which demonstrates Lazarus’ inability to accept the reality of defeat.
The Horry County Republican Party Executive Committee properly dismissed the Lazarus election protest last week because the initial protest notice was filed one day after the deadline mandated by state law. Lazarus appealed that decision to the South Carolina Republican Party Executive Committee, but apparently had a change of heart as the appeal hearing approached.
Lazarus never had a legal protest because it was filed one day after the deadline mandated in state law and confirmed by the S. C. Election Commission published election calendar. The initial protest was filed on Tuesday July 5 rather than the deadline of noon Monday July 4.
Apparently, someone finally convinced Lazarus and his attorney Butch Bowers that 4 does not mean 5, Monday does not mean Tuesday and there was no way to win the protest appeal. It was time to stop publicly embarrassing themselves.

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Lazarus Appeals HCGOP Denial of Illegal Election Protest Amid Apparent Misrepresentation of Facts

Mark Lazarus has appealed the decision of the Horry County Republican Party Executive Committee to deny his request for a new runoff primary election for county council chairman.
A hearing of the appeal has been scheduled before the South Carolina Republican Party Executive Committee on Thursday July 14, 2022, in Columbia beginning at 6:30 p. m.
However, there is no legal basis for the SCGOP Executive Committee to hear that appeal.
The formal appeal document, prepared by Lazarus attorney Butch Bowers, contains apparent false statements about facts which render the entire protest and appeal process null and void.
The HCGOP Executive Party voted 40-5 with two abstentions to dismiss the protest on the grounds that it was not filed by the deadline mandated in state law.
State code Sec. 7-17-520 states, “The protests and contests in the case of county officers and less than county officers shall be filed in writing with the chairman of the county party executive committee, together with a copy for each candidate in the race not later than noon Monday following the day of the declaration by the county committee of the result of the election.”
Bowers did not file the election protest until 8:35 a. m. Tuesday July 5, 2022, in an electronic notification sent to and verified by the Horry County Sheriff’s Office.

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Lazarus Election Protest Dismissed by HCGOP Because Filing Deadline Missed

The Horry County Republican Party Executive Committee voted 40 to 5, with two abstentions Thursday night, to dismiss the election protest filed by defeated county chairman candidate Mark Lazarus.
The protest was dismissed not because of reasons cited in the protest filing, i.e. 1377 incorrectly mailed absentee ballots, 208 absentee ballots that arrived after the cutoff deadline for counting or an alleged 1027 disenfranchised voters.
No. The protest was dismissed for one very simple reason – It was filed too late. The protest missed the filing deadline mandated in state law by 20 hours and 35 minutes. And the protest filing itself contains all the evidence necessary to support its dismissal. (A picture of the email that included the electronic filing with the Horry County Sheriff’s Office is attached below.)
The pertinent section of state law relating to notice of protest of a partisan party primary or primary runoff states:
“SECTION 7 17 520 (Code of Laws of South Carolina) Protests and contests generally; filing and service.
“The protests and contests in the case of county officers and less than county officers shall be “filed in writing with the chairman of the county party executive committee, together with a copy for “each candidate in the race not later than noon Monday following the day of the declaration by the “county committee of the result of the election. Service may be perfected by depositing with the county “sheriff a copy of the protest for the chairman together with a sufficient number of copies to be served “upon all candidates in the protested or contested race.”

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Lazarus Election Protest Uses Supposition and Speculation Not Facts

The protest by candidate Mark Lazarus of the certification of the election results for the primary runoff election for Horry County Council Chairman will be heard at 6 p.m. Thursday July 7, 2022, by the Executive Committee of the Horry County Republican Party.
The protest brief, prepared by attorney Butch Bowers of Columbia, appears to be an amalgam of speculation and supposition rather than a protest based on hard facts.
At issue are 1377 absentee ballots sent to Republican voters. According to the Horry County Voter Registration and Elections Department, Democratic ballots were initially sent to the Republican voters. When the mistake was discovered, Republican ballots were sent.
According to the protest brief, 140 of those absentee ballots were received by the county elections office prior to close of polls on election day. Those ballots were included in the vote totals of the primary runoff election for county chairman.
State law is quite specific, absentee ballots must be checked that the ballots were signed by the voter to whom issued and witnessed by a different person with the witness address included with the ballot. In addition, only absentee ballots received by a county election office prior to close of polls on election day may be counted in vote totals, according to state law section 7-15-420.

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Lazarus Election Appeal Violates State Law

After failing to get the Horry County Election Commission to violate state law by not certifying the special primary election for Horry County Council Chairman last week, Mark Lazarus has filed an election appeal with the Horry County Republican Party, where he will, presumably, ask the party to violate state law.
Lazarus’ argument is based on the initial mailing of Democratic ballots to some Republican voters, a mistake that was corrected as soon as it was discovered and was corrected before election day. Lazarus has claimed in media reports late arriving absentee ballots should be counted because of the initial mixup.
The following is a direct quote Lazarus gave to one of the media outlets in the county: “If anyone had any doubts that election integrity was not an issue in this country, what happened here in Horry County is a perfect example of what Donald Trump warned us about,” Lazarus said.
The story went on to say: “He (Lazarus) said his objective is not personal and his goal is to make sure that the ballot of every voter who intended to vote absentee is counted.”
Actually, what Donald Trump warned us about for years was the dangers of allowing any absentee ballots to ever be counted. Trump told us that absentee ballots are subject to fraud and the only votes that should be counted are those cast by voters in person at the polls on election day.

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How Did Lazarus Lose with 10 to 1 Spending Advantage?

Money is considered the magic ingredient in political campaigns. If you have enough of it, you can’t lose.
Mark Lazarus had a 10 to 1 money advantage over Johnny Gardner in their recent campaign for Horry County Council Chairman. Yet, even with such an overwhelming money advantage, Lazarus snatched defeat from the jaws of victory again.
The Lazarus campaign had Walter Whetsell as its consultant. Whetsell was Tom Rice’s campaign consultant since Rice first ran for Congress in 2012.
After Rice voted to impeach President Donald Trump, Whetsell told media that a week in politics is a lifetime and voters would forget about the Rice vote in a couple of weeks. What actually happened was voters remembered the Rice vote for 18 months and voted him out of office two weeks ago.
Four years ago, Lazarus calling the county police and fire first responders “Thugs” put the final nail in his coffin denying him reelection as county chairman.
This time, a terrible campaign strategy, that had Lazarus trying to deny the “Thug” comment as well as the rest of his history as county chairman, was an affront to the voters. The voters didn’t forget Lazarus’ history over the four years he was out of office.

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Lazarus Biggest Primary Loser Because He Couldn’t Fool All the People or Even a Majority

Now that primary elections are completed, the biggest loser can be identified as Mark Lazarus in his bid to regain the post of Horry County Council Chairman.
Lazarus went into this campaign absolutely certain that his defeat by incumbent Chairman Johnny Gardner in 2018 was an aberration and that he would without question win a rematch this year.
Lazarus had a funding edge of approximately 10 to 1 over Gardner when donations to his campaign and the three PACs who sent mailers or paid for television ads to support his candidacy are totaled.
A funding edge of 10 to 1 should be enough to win any race. But it wasn’t, mainly because Lazarus could not escape the load of baggage he carried with him from his five and one-half years as county chairman from 2013-2018.
Lazarus could not escape the fact that he called the county first responders “Thugs” four years ago. He couldn’t escape his tight ties with the local cabal, his willingness to spend local government revenue on Interstate 73 construction instead of local road improvements and the anything goes development atmosphere that was pervasive throughout the county during his time as chairman.
And the Lazarus campaign strategy of attempting to rewrite his history as chairman, then going negative on Gardner was awful. Blame that on his campaign consultant Walter Whetsell and his Starboard Communications.

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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.

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