By Paul Gable
Several days have passed since the Ken Richardson campaign missed the required deadline for filing a pre-election campaign disclosure report with the South Carolina Ethics Commission and, as of this writing, there is still no public record of the report on the commission website.
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? Will the failure to file run past election day November 7th for that same reason?
Daily fines for missing the deadline are minimal. It only costs a relatively few bucks to keep the information hidden for several weeks.
Speaking of keeping information hidden, the livestream of the debate provided by the university aired without sound. Fortunately, WMBF News also carried a livestream, with sound, of the event. Hopefully, the WMBF livestream will be made available for public viewing until election day so the many voters who were not able to attend in person can view the debate.
As far as the debate itself, I am sharing a text I received from a well-respected businessman and long time follower of politics in Horry County,
It read, “No big fireworks, but I think Ken was very “ill” prepared and it showed. I think he’s running on other peoples’ emotions and as always emotions will fade away. He appeared to me that he really didn’t know what the Mayor’s job is but was trying to “wing it.” Barbara’s experience and education really shined with her on most of her responses. She could have done better 1 or 2 times but Ken was “in the weeds.”
During the debate, Richardson admitted he wasn’t that familiar with city council issues and he hasn’t attended city council meetings. One would think that a candidate who hopes to be mayor after January 1, 2024, would be attending council meetings to familiarize himself with issues currently facing the city.
However, responding to a question about the Pride Month proclamation, Richardson did get to deliver the lines he apparently was waiting to deliver all night.
Richardson said, if elected, he would not issue any mayoral proclamation without the approval of city council members and said he was told by two council members they didn’t know anything about the proclamation before Bellamy read it out.
Additionally, Richardson, talking about the LGBTQ issue, said the world had changed such that he used to have discussions with his grandchildren about transformers (the toy). Now he had discussions with them about transgender.
There are several problems with those statements. The Pride Month proclamation was listed on city council agenda, which, among many ways council and the public are notified of agenda contents, was posted on the door of City Hall on the Thursday before the Monday meeting. A proclamation is not something council votes on because it is not a declaration of policy nor a statement of the will of council at a particular time.
As Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy said, in response, the controversy was not about mayoral proclamations in general, but only about one in particular. Nobody complained about proclamations for Garden Month or Jewish History Month, for example.
That one proclamation appears to be the only reason Richardson decided to run for mayor. It is simply not a reason that will attract many votes.
Meanwhile, where is that pre-election campaign disclosure report?