By Paul Gable
The Ken Richardson campaign for mayor of Conway finally filed its pre-election campaign disclosure report with the S. C. Ethics Commission late at night on October 26, 2023, four days late.
Earlier in the day of October 26, 2023, Grand Strand Daily published a story which posed the question, “Is there some required information about donations and/or expenditures that the campaign did not want to make public before last night’s mayoral debate at Coastal Carolina University?”
After viewing the pre-election report filing, it seems that question was directly on-point.
When people donate money to a candidate, there is some expectation the candidate will be a good steward of the money donated and money will be spent in the local economy, if at all possible.
Richardson followed these principles in his previous campaigns for school board chairman and for Congress. He publicly pledged that campaign expenditures would be made within the county in the school board race and within the 7th Congressional District in his race for Congress. He challenged opponents to do the same.
Those principles and promises have been cast to the wayside in this election by the Richardson campaign.
According to the pre-election report filed with the Ethics Commission, the Richardson campaign received $53,700 in donations from campaign contributors in the reporting period. Richardson also loaned the campaign $20,000 during the reporting period. The campaign spent a total of $68,481.30 during the reporting period.
The most striking expenditures in the Richardson filing show three payments for a total of $40,300 paid to Mobilize the Message LLC of Fort Walton Beach, Florida for “door knockers.” This amount represents a full 75% of the total raised from individual donors during the reporting period. So much for spending the money with local businesses.
The mobilizethemessage.com website promises, “Our team of seasoned recruiters will interview, hire and train top door knockers” and “Your universe/district will be flooded with quality, professional door knockers that will leave a lasting impression in the mind of voters anywhere in the country.”
It seems that the Richardson campaign is spending 75% of its money raised from local donors to “flood” Conway with a bunch of out-of-state college age youths to knock on the doors of Conway voters to deliver Richardson’s “ideologically driven” message about why they should vote for him.
Give me a break! This is an election for mayor of Conway. The voters have forgotten more about what they want for their city than these “door knockers” will ever know.
One Richardson ad in local media proclaimed, “Ken Richardson invites you to join him in building a Conway where decisions are made together, where all voices are respected and where our cherished traditions are upheld.”
How is that invitation relevant from a campaign which uses a “flood” of out-of-state, “Ideologically driven door knockers”?
It sounds more to me like the voters of Conway will be flooded with a bunch of youths, who know nothing about the city and no interest in its future, knocking on their doors to give some pre-programmed message for a paycheck.
Instead of running to be mayor of Conway, maybe Richardson should audition for the TV show “Are you smarter than a Fifth Grader?”