By Paul Gable
The truth of explanations for the campaign flyers sent out supporting the candidacies of Alan Clemmons and Heather Ammons Crawford, marked “Paid for by the SCGOP” and “authorized by” the respective candidates, in the races for SC House District 107 and SC House District 68 respectively, have been “weighed on the scales and found wanting”, as the Book of Daniel would say.
There have been three mailers each supporting Clemmons and Crawford marked “Paid for by the SCGOP” and “authorized by” the respective candidate. There must have been some polling showing both Clemmons and Crawford trailing their challengers for the SCGOP to take such blatant, biased actions in a primary election.
The Horry County Republican Party Bylaws specifically prohibit such action by party officials, ” Bylaws Section 1-A. Elected and appointed officials of the Horry County Republican party shall not endorse, work for, assist, or allow their name to be used in support of a Republican candidate who has opposition from another Republican candidate during a Primary or Run-off election.”
There is a very good reason for this prohibition. Primary elections are run by the parties. If an election challenge is made, it is heard by the Executive Committee of either the local or state party, depending on what office is involved.
In the case of Clemmons and Crawford, if the results of their elections are challenged, the challenge must, by law, be heard by the SCGOP Executive Committee, the same group that would have had to approve the sending of the mailers. How could there possibly be an impartial judgement from that committee considering they have already chosen their preferred winner?
I contacted the state party by email over two weeks ago asking why the SCGOP was involving itself in primary elections and who approved sending the mailers. To date, I have received no response.
HCGOP co-Chairman Ed Carey contacted the SCGOP at the same time with the same requests for information. He has not received a reply from Columbia either.
Local radio personality Chad Caton spoke on his show of a conversation he had with former HCGOP Chairman Robert Rabon. According to Caton’s report, Rabon said he was told by both Clemmons and Crawford that their respective campaigns actually reimbursed the SCGOP for the cost of the mailing and just used the SCGOP for bulk mail rate on the flyers.
But, such an explanation is a major problem. I once had a conversation with former SC Ethics Commission attorney Cathy Hazelwood. She told me the only thing that had to be truthful on campaign literature was who paid for it and the address of the sender.
This would lead one to conclude the Clemmons and Crawford responses about reimbursing the SCGOP, that Rabon relayed to Caton, were false and the SCGOP did in fact pay for the flyers. If the Clemmons and Crawford campaigns did reimburse the SCGOP, the paid for line on the flyer must state paid for by the respective campaign or state ethics law has been violated and both the candidates and SCGOP would be perpetrators of the violation.
Further, when questioned on Facebook about the SCGOP showing favoritism in her primary and paying for flyers on her behalf, Crawford responded, “I’m proud to have the support of the SCGOP…”
So which is it Heather, you’re proud of the support of the SCGOP in paying for fliers supporting your candidacy, or you paid for the flyers and the SCGOP doesn’t really support you? One of your statements is not true.
I contacted the campaigns of the Alan opponents of both Clemmons and Crawford, Case Brittain and Mark Epps, respectively. They both said after becoming aware of the flyers for Clemmons and Crawford marked “Paid for by the SCGOP”, they each contacted the SCGOP asking if the party would do the same for them. Both reported receiving no response from SCGOP officials.
This raises the question, if the SCGOP was used just for bulk mail rates and not for promoting the candidacies of Clemmons and Crawford, as both Clemmons and Crawford told Rabon, why wouldn’t the SCGOP extend the same privilege to all Republican candidates? Why ignore the requests of Brittain and Epps?
The claims in the flyers must be considered. Both Clemmons and Crawford are credited for voting for pay raises for teachers, law enforcement officers and firefighters and establishing the Department of Veterans Affairs at the state level. These are all items in the state budget for next year. They are not individual bills filed by either of the two, but it sounds lame to say Clemmons and Crawford voted for the state budget along with virtually every other legislator in Columbia.
The third Crawford flyer, “Paid for by the SCGOP”, speaks about “fake names”, “anonymous funding” and “mysterious dark-money groups” sending out flyers opposing Crawford. It is an obvious attempt to paint Crawford as a victim of nefarious characters opposing her.
In fact, it seems the only flyers to which the terms fake, anonymous and mysterious can be applied are to those marked “Paid for by the SCGOP” supporting Clemmons and Crawford.
When incumbents have to use such tactics to get reelected it is not because they are serving the people well. If they were serving the people to the best of their ability, they wouldn’t have to worry about being reelected.
The problem we have with most of the incumbents we have in office in Horry County, whether it be in local office or the state legislature, is their main goal is to be reelected instead of to serve the people. All of their effort is expended in how to keep their job rather than doing their job.
If Crawford and Clemmons actually did their job for the citizens, we wouldn’t have continual increase in flooding events, attempts to push I-73 while ignoring the flooding of 501, 22 and 9 as well as a host of county roads and the need for the SCGOP to involve itself in local politics in an attempt to save these apparent party favorites.
I submit that with the Clemmons and Crawford form of representation, it has always been about them and never about the citizens.
Clemmons has been trying to find another job for the past two years and is still only in the race because he has so far failed to get a job at Horry Georgetown Technical College, the City of Myrtle Beach, Horry County and the 15th Circuit Public Defenders Office. Representing District 107 citizens ranks way down on his list of priorities.
Crawford received $150,000 from Clemmons’ campaign funds over five years when, I submit, she couldn’t find any other employment.
They both travel extensively using campaign funds for flights, hotels and other expenses. One of the largest expenses and the largest individual contribution listed in Crawford’s recent public reporting is the South Carolina Mideast Delegation, which has the same 1800 Oak Street address as Clemmons’ law firm in Myrtle Beach.
Speaking of those Mideast trips, Clemmons and Crawford haven’t been able to get any significant state funds appropriated for I-73 construction or for flood mitigation, but they got the SC House to pass a resolution boycotting firms who don’t respect Israel’s right to permanent settlements in the West Bank.
When elected officials forget the phrase ‘it’s not about me, it’s about us’, with respect to how they perform in office, they have lost their way and need to be replaced.