Tag: tom rice

Where is Mayor Bethune?

Last week, Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune missed two opportunities to answer questions from voters about why she should be reelected.
Instead, the Bethune campaign put out two emails extolling the virtues of spending local tax dollars on the construction of Interstate 73 and what she had done to address crime issues in the city.
Had Bethune taken the time to actually talk to voters, she may have learned that crime is still the number one issue concerning residents of Myrtle Beach and constructing I-73 ranks very far down on the list.
And Bethune’s message was countered by a story about Myrtle Beach being the third most dangerous city, per capita, in the nation. The story could be found on the website of Coastal Law, the firm with which Congressional candidate Russell Fry is associated.
Interestingly, Fry and Bethune both support the construction of I-73 in Horry County with local tax dollars.
Talking to and listening to voters is not high up on the list of things to do for most politicians today. They certainly want to be elected and reelected but they prefer to do it with slick mailers and emails as well as orchestrated messages in television and radio ads. These messages hit what politicians consider to be a few hot button issues for voters.
Then, if they fool enough voters to be elected or reelected, many of the politicians will go on to serve their own self-interests or those of the big donors to their campaigns. In some cases, such as Interstate 73, these politicians try to make it a hot button for voters with outlandish promises of what it will do for voters while it is really meant to serve the interest of their donors.
I-73 will permeate many election races through the Republican primaries in June 2022 and those politicians promoting it as a good idea are not working in the best interest of voters.
Fry joined Bethune and incumbent Congressman Tom Rice at Gov. Henry McMaster’s press conference about funding I-73 in Myrtle Beach last week.
Fry is running a rather schizophrenic campaign attempting to be a clone of Rice sometimes, then running away from Rice at other times when he (Fry) tries to wrap himself in the Donald Trump cloak.

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Local Politicians Risk Lives in Supporting I-73 Over Public Safety

According to recent statistics released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Myrtle Beach is the third most dangerous city of over 10,000 residents in the country.
According to those statistics, Myrtle Beach has nearly double the murders per 1,000 population as the national average. Among other violent crimes, Myrtle Beach has nearly four times the number of rapes, three and one-half times the number of robberies and three times the number of assaults as the national average.
Last month, the website for Coastal Law, of which Russell Fry is one of the two practicing attorneys, posted a story about these Myrtle Beach statistics. The entire story can be viewed at this link: https://coastal-law.com/myrtle-beach-crime-rates-are-we-the-3rd-most-dangerous-city-in-america/
With the crime rate so high in the city in which he practices law and wants to represent in Congress, why is Fry so effusive in his support of the plan for funding Interstate 73 by using locally collected hospitality fee revenue from Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach and Horry County? This public revenue could be put to better use funding additional public safety personnel and equipment as well as other, more critical, local infrastructure needs.
One could conclude that Fry is more interested in supporting the interests of those who fund his campaigns than he is in improving the welfare of those he currently represents and those he hopes to represent in Congress.
A true, conservative politician would prioritize the spending of local public dollars solving the issues that currently reduce the quality of life of his or her constituents, such as crime and poor infrastructure, rather than spending those limited public dollars on a new boondoggle project.
If Fry believes only new projects give life to his campaign, why isn’t he promoting construction of the SELL road, which would give a new access road to his current southeastern Horry County constituents in House District 106, rather than I-73?
Fry is not alone, among local politicians, in ignoring the need to fight crime in Myrtle Beach and improve current infrastructure in favor of spending locally generated tax dollars on the I-73 boondoggle.
Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune has done nothing to reduce crime rates in Myrtle Beach during her current nearly four-year term in office. Bethune was joined at the governor’s press conference by city council members Jackie Hatley, Gregg Smith and John Krajc. Bethune, Hatley and Smith are on the ballot for reelection next month.

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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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Ken Richardson For U.S. Congress

Richardson Officially Kicks Off Congressional Campaign to Enthusiastic Crowd

Horry County School Board Chairman Ken Richardson Thursday night officially kicked off his campaign to unseat Tom Rice from the S. C. 7th Congressional seat at Radd Dew’s BBQ in Aynor.
Richardson announced he was a candidate early in the year and has spoken to 63 groups throughout the district, by his count, before his official kickoff. But, Thursday night saw Richardson host approximately 350 people, including a number of elected officials, to his official kickoff event. The crowd extended from the auditorium of the former school, in which the restaurant is located, out into the hallway behind the auditorium when Richardson spoke.
The people who attended the Richardson event were virtually all from west of the Intracoastal Waterway in Horry County although there was a sprinkling of attendees who drove from towns in the other seven counties in the district.
Virtually all of the attendees voted for Donald Trump in 2020, there was plenty of Trump attire in the crowd. Virtually all voted for Tom Rice in 2020. After hearing Richardson’s speech, I believe everybody at last night’s event will vote for Richardson in 2022.
The east-west divide, bounded by the waterway, among voters in Horry County and the 7th Congressional District in general was readily apparent in the crowd.
Those along the coast, where the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce is most influential, will support Rice in the upcoming primary. If it becomes apparent Rice is not regaining lost support among the voters, the Chamber crowd will probably opt for their number one Rice substitute Russell Fry.
The remainder of the district west of the waterway, where approximately 650,000 of the district’s approximately 750,000 citizens reside, is ripe for the taking by a candidate who speaks the people’s language.
In political terms, that language is one that respects individual liberty, expects limited government interference in their lives, wants to eliminate wasteful government spending on boondoggle projects and has strong ties to their local community.
Richardson asked two very interesting questions of the crowd. He asked for a show of hands of people who want their locally collected tax dollars to be spent on local roads and infrastructure. Virtually every hand in the crowd was raised.

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Another Suspicious Poll from MBACC Alleges Support for I-73

The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce is up to its old tricks by again trying to convince local citizens that there is widespread support for the construction of Interstate 73.
Two days ago, the Chamber issued a press release and an eight-page document supposedly reporting the results of a poll conducted in July 2021 on I-73.
The document stated that 79 percent of 405 registered voters responding from across the state supported I-73. It also stated that 82 percent of an unspecified number of voters, included in the overall 405 number, from the 7th Congressional District supported I-73.
These reported results are in line with another supposed poll the Chamber said was conducted two years ago. The results from that poll supposedly said that of 1,774 respondents to a poll on I-73, 74.6 percent of the respondents favored the project.
Two years ago, I called B— S—- on the 2019 supposed poll and I submit the same sentiment applies to these most recent reported results.
The latest supposed poll results come at a time when the newest brainstorm, as reported in local media, to keep some life in the I-73 project is to have the local city and the county governments pledge by resolution a total of $250 million toward construction of I-73.
Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune strongly supported local funding from the city, even though the city recently cancelled health insurance coverage promised to retired city workers and police manning is down while young women apparently can be snatched off the street in mid-afternoon only to have their body turn up in Florence several days later.
However, Horry County Council members are very reluctant to pass even a resolution supporting county funding of I-73, despite concerted effort by council member Dennis DiSabato. It took the county a year to reverse the debacle council had to extract itself from two years ago after a 2018 resolution pushed by then county chairman Mark Lazarus committed the county to providing $25 million per year to SCDOT for the I-73 project.
The idea is that state Rep. Case Brittain can take those pledges to Columbia to ask the state government to pledge $500 million toward the project. Then, with $750 million pledged, maybe Tom Rice can finally get enough out of the federal government to construct the road at least to connection to I-95 in Dillon, a total cost of approximately $1.5-2 billion.
How this is supposed to succeed is anyone’s guess as the best Gov. Henry McMaster could do last spring was get SCDOT to commit $500,000 per year for three years to the I-73 project IF the local governments provided a total match of $500,000 per year.
The reasons to question whether a poll was even conducted are many.

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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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Richardson Listens to Voters on I-73 Issue

As a new push begins for local funding of the Interstate 73 project, Horry County School Board Chairman and 7th Congressional District candidate Ken Richardson has taken a novel approach on the I-73 issue.
Over the past several days, local media has highlighted I-73 propaganda statements by local politicians who, along with the special interests who fund their campaigns, search for $250 million in local government revenue to pledge to the I-73 project.
Interstate 73 has always had a top-down sales approach to voters. Special interests and their PACs, who believe they will gain financially in some way from the construction of I-73, fund the campaign chests of local politicians who then become spokespersons trying to convince voters that I-73 is actually for their (the voters) benefit.
Richardson has taken a different approach. As he travels around Horry County and the other seven counties that make up the 7th Congressional District, Richardson asks voters whether they support the construction of I-73.
“I have given over 50 speeches to groups as small as 6 to as large as 120 since I announced my challenge to Tom Rice for the Republican nomination for the 7th Congressional District,” Richardson said. “During every speech, I ask for a show of hands from those in attendance who support I-73. So far, in all those events, only one hand has been raised.”
Richardson spoke of one woman at an event in Florence. “She said to me, ‘we always hear how interstates will bring new jobs. Well, we already have two interstates in Florence and we haven’t seen 300 new jobs in the last 10 years.’”
Richardson said a common theme he hears is that local governments and the state government should fix the roads and bridges they already have in place rather than building a new road that won’t be maintained either.
The I-73 project has been a subject of discussion by special interests and the politicians they donate to for at least 30 years. It ramped up nearly 20 years ago when Brad Dean took over the reins of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.
Horry County has already spent over one-half billion dollars of locally generated hospitality fee (tax) revenues building SC-22. The last approximately 22 miles of I-73 will be on SC-22 from near the 319 exit to the terminus in the Briarcliffe Acres area. SC-22 will need some upgrading on the shoulders to meet interstate highway standards.

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Fry and Other 7th Congressional Candidates Looking to Score Political Gain from Afghan Suicide Bombing

By Paul Gable
Having spent 10 years on active duty in the U. S. Navy, I find the loss of life in the line of duty by any servicemember to be a time of tragedy and sorrow not something you try to use for personal gain.
Therefore, when 13 servicemembers lost their lives to a suicide bomber at the Kabul airport last week, I was appalled at how quickly four of the candidates for the South Carolina 7th Congressional District Republican nomination tried to score political points from these deaths.
Two, incumbent representative Tom Rice, who is still trying to get back into the good graces of Republican voters after voting to impeach former President Donald Trump, and Graham Allen, who lives across the state from the 7th Congressional District and remains a total unknown to most of the Republican voters in the district, called for President Joe Biden to immediately resign.
Political newcomer Jeanette Spurlock called for the immediate impeachment of Biden.
And state representative Russell Fry, who is trying mightily to gain the endorsement of Trump by any means possible called for Biden to appoint Trump as a special envoy to Afghanistan to oversee the continuing withdrawal of American servicemembers and civilians still in the country at the time.
All of these called for actions are outrageous in that none of them are going to happen. And these candidates know they won’t happen.
Why do it?
Because Allen and Spurlock, two of the outsiders in the race, hope their statements will resonate and gain them some traction and name recognition with the many pro-Trump voters in the 7th Congressional District.
Rice, after drawing continuing criticism from Republican voters for his vote to impeach Trump, is grasping for any available lifeline in an attempt to keep his chances for a sixth term in Congress viable.
Fry’s special envoy proposal is more calculated. After failing to criticize Rice for six months for Rice’s vote to impeach Trump, Fry decided to enter the race and contest the GOP primary election for the nomination for the 7th Congressional District.

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School Mask Mandates – Who are the True Conservatives?

This week’s controversy about whether to require students, teachers and staff to wear masks in public schools gave us another chance to see who are the real conservative political leaders and who are the politicians that only give voice to conservatism to get elected.
Put another way, who truly promotes individual liberty and limiting government overreach and who doesn’t?
The longest serving legislative member in Horry County, Sen. Luke Rankin, joined forces with Democrats throughout the state and Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman to call for the repeal of a state budget proviso that currently makes it illegal for local school boards to require masks to be worn in schools.
What makes this extremely absurd is it’s only two months since the proviso became law with the passing of the state budget and both passing the proviso and repealing it are examples of government overreach by the state legislature.
Government overreach by the state legislature is almost a requirement in a General Assembly filled with mostly pseudo-conservative politicians who enjoy exercising power over others. And many in the Horry County legislative delegation excel at government overreach by dictating to local governments and citizens.
At the very most, decisions on whether students should be required to wear masks in school should be left to the local governing school board, but one which should be exercised only in extreme circumstances. The decision on whether a child wears a mask to school or not should be left to the parents of the child as a normal course of action. Otherwise, what does individual liberty mean?
The controversy over masks quickly entered the political discussion in the 7th Congressional District race.
School Board Chairman Ken Richardson has said repeatedly in media reports that state law currently forbids school boards from legislating masking requirements and that he believes it is a decision that should be left to the parents.
Former Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride took Rankin to task in a video rebuttal to Rankin’s call for a mask mandate. In that rebuttal, McBride said he believes the decision to wear a mask to school or not should be left to the parents.
State Rep. Russell Fry, who launched his campaign declaring he was a true conservative Republican, has been strangely quiet on the issue.
However, Fry has not been timid about being in the middle of government overreach by the General Assembly on other issues.

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Fry Kicks Off Campaign

House District 106 representative Russell Fry officially kicked off his campaign for the SC 7th Congressional District Republican nomination at an event last night.
Fry has finally criticized incumbent representative Tom Rice for voting to impeach President Donald Trump in January. It only took Fry seven months to finally take this stand and after eight other candidates, none of whom were afraid to criticize Rice immediately after his vote to impeach, already entered the race.
His announcement of the campaign event included the phrase, “That’s why I’m announcing my campaign for Congress on Thursday, August 5—to guard the faith, families, and freedom of our fellow citizens.”
That statement is nothing but political rhetoric and sounds like a sound bite paraphrasing Superman fighting for ‘truth, justice and the American way’ in the old 1950’s television show of the same name.
The announcement also stated, “Your Congressman should do more than simply use his vote to look out for our interests here at home.”
I submit the voters want a Congressman whose primary goal is to use his vote to look out for the interests of the citizens here at home instead of special interests and those same voters are not interested in sound bites but rather in solid pledges from a candidate.
One pledge Fry did make was about I-73 and seemed to be aimed at those special interests who have had their way in Horry County for too long.
Fry was quoted as saying, “I think it’s a meritorious project for families in and around here,” he said. “It is a public safety issue. It is a jobs and economy issue. It’s a connectivity issue. There are a lot of benefits that come from interstate access that would that would be great not only for the Grand Strand, but the entire Pee Dee region.”
That statement is standard phrasing about I-73 that we have been subjected to since a 2005 study of the “economic impact” of the project was first completed. It is a necessary ingredient to any campaign that hopes to attract support from the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and its associated PACs as well as the special interests who expect to gain financially from any construction of I-73 within the county.

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