The Cabal or the People, the Choice for County Chairman

By Paul Gable

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.

The Lazarus minions want to argue there was no endorsement by Mark of Rice because they know the devastating effect that will have on Mark’s chances of winning his primary runoff. However, this is an argument of semantics about the meaning of the word endorsement, not about the semantics of the meaning of the Lazarus video.

In the political sphere, an endorsement is accepted as the “act of giving one’s public support or approval” to a candidate. There can be no doubt Lazarus gives public support and approval to Rice in his video message. How can one call the message, “We need Tom Rice, we need his background, we need his mind, we need his ability to stay in Washington…Vote Tom Rice,” anything other than Mark’s public approval and support of Rice?

To deny the video is an endorsement of Tom Rice works only in the fantasy world occupied by the Lazarus campaign. And in the last day or two the video has been removed from You Tube so it can’t be seen, admission enough that Lazarus endorsed Rice and now is trying to hide it.

This attempt to argue little details about Lazarus history while distorting and distracting from the big picture has been the essence of the Lazarus campaign. It is not by chance that Lazarus and Rice shared political consultant Walter Whetsell and Whetsell’s Starboard Communications crew in 2022.

Of course, Whetsell is the guy who told media that voters would forget about Rice’s vote to impeach President Donald Trump in two weeks. Whetsell’s formula appears to act on the belief that the voters are stupid and some slick advertisements and social media posts will divert voter attention from the real issues. And throw in some negative ads about the opponent at the end.

Overall, I believe Whetsell’s approach to campaigns hurts Horry County and the candidates he represents who profess to want to help the citizens of the county while spending tens of thousands of dollars outside the county with Lexington based Starboard Communications.

Speaking about negative ads, the American Century PAC began running a negative ad against Johnny Gardner about an ethics violation fine. The fine was levied because Gardner’s business loaned his campaign money in 2018. The loan had to be personal from Gardner so an ethics violation occurred. In essence, Gardner was fined for a violation on how he used his own funds.

However, the real interesting part is the organization running the ad – American Century PAC. According to, the Treasurer for the American Century PAC is David Satterfield of Alexandria, Virginia. This is the same David Satterfield who is currently a defendant in a lawsuit brought by John Gallman over the antics of the American Industry Project, another organization for which Satterfield is listed as Treasurer. The AIP paid for negative and provably false ads defaming Gallman during his 2020 campaign against Luke Rankin.

Rankin is another of a whole host of defendants in Gallman’s lawsuit. Most of the defendants are political operatives from outside the county who have previous connections with the Cabal or its candidates.

And, surprise, surprise Rankin endorsed Lazarus in the current election.

The fallout from that lawsuit, both political and otherwise, could be monumental. Yet, some of the same characters are involved in this election.

When a candidate is opposed by the cabal, as Gardner is, the apples never fall far from the tree.

And speaking about ethics, the Lazarus campaign has two disbarred attorneys in its core campaign group, one of whom was forced to resign from the SC House of Representatives for domestic violence charges and later spent time in federal prison for a money laundering scheme. Be careful who knocks on your door.

The reader can decide which campaign, Gardner or Lazarus, is more ethically challenged.

Then there is the Lazarus record with county employees who opposed, en masse, Lazarus’ election for county chairman four years ago and who continue to oppose his election now. Lazarus, when he was chairman from 2013-18, with then county administrator Chris Eldridge drove the morale of county employees into the dirt.

A leader should look out for the welfare of the people working for him. The Lazarus history with county employees is exactly the opposite. Near the end of the 2018 campaign, Lazarus called Horry County police and firefighters “Thugs.”

After Lazarus was defeated in 2018, he, Eldridge and county attorney Arrigo Carotti sent emails back and forth about a five-page memo authored by Carotti, which proved to be a purely fictional accounting of an alleged plot by Gardner involving the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Authority.

They went so far as to send the memo to SLED, apparently hoping they could keep Gardner from taking office as county chairman. SLED found no wrong doing on the part of Gardner and the plot was foiled despite Carotti attempting to interfere in the SLED investigation.

The impression was there was no scheme too far-fetched to attempt to keep Gardner out of the chairman’s seat.

And the fear among county employees is if Lazarus wins, he will bring Eldridge back as county administrator, which would again destroy county morale.

There is always the Lazarus connection with dedicating county funds to pay for construction of Interstate 73, which Gardner managed to cancel in his first year as chairman. If elected, there is no doubt Lazarus will quickly move to again dedicate county hospitality tax revenue away from local roads to I-73 construction.

Here we are again.

During this entire election cycle for county chairman, Lazarus has tried to boast about his leadership skills. The above provides several examples of his style of leadership.

His leadership is not good for the county, its employees or its citizens. It only helps the Cabal.

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