Post Tagged with: "Coastal Kickback scandal"

Myrtle Beach City Council Election Gets Incendiary

October 31, 2013 6:00 AM
Myrtle Beach City Council Election Gets Incendiary

Two bombs, actually explosive stories, were thrown into the middle of the Myrtle Beach city council election race Wednesday with potentially serious consequences for the incumbents in the few days remaining before next Tuesday’s voting.

Two separate stories carrying the explosives were filed by David Wren in The Sun News Wednesday evening.

The first story dealt with two trusts that incumbent council member Wayne Gray was appointed to oversee. The trusts were established by Gray’s uncle, William Rogers, to benefit Rogers’ wife and children.

According to Wren’s story, Gray borrowed $230,000 from the trusts over a period of years and was removed as the trustee in 2007. In 2008, Gray agreed to pay $92,500 to settle a lawsuit brought against him by his aunt, Debbie Rogers Idol. And documents regarding the case are missing from the Probate Court office in Conway.

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Accommodations Tax Fuels MB Chamber Greed

April 16, 2013 8:00 AM
Accommodations Tax Fuels MB Chamber Greed

When Horry County Council begins in-depth considerations of next year’s budget later this week, the question of how much accommodations tax revenue goes to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce will be a major point of discussion.

While the accommodations tax concept is to help meet the costs of expanded services required by the introduction of millions of visitors to an area, the state law allowing accommodations tax collections requires 30 percent of the revenue generated to be spent on tourism marketing. This provision was one of the trade-offs put in the law to get the buy-in of the tourism lobby.

For a number of years, that 30 percent, approximately $2.3 million from the unincorporated areas of the county, has gone to the Chamber in a block to spend on its marketing efforts.

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Tourism Development Fee Tales

February 9, 2013 12:00 PM
Tourism Development Fee Tales

The Tourism Development Fee, otherwise known as the reverse Robin Hood tourism ad sales tax, is again in the news as Myrtle Beach city and Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce officials continue to attempt to justify it.

They speak of capital improvement projects and reduced property tax for owner occupied homes in the city as well as possibilities of extending the tourism base for local business.

What we don’t hear about is how the motel and restaurant owners were able to decrease their advertising budgets in excess of 90 percent, allowing them to put more money in their pockets, while the maids, waitresses and bus boys they pay minimum wage to pay more tax.

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Horry County Special Interest Groups and I-73

February 3, 2013 3:12 PM
Horry County Special Interest Groups and I-73

A superb article published in the Myrtle Beach Sun News today explains the push by Horry County special interest groups for I-73 construction today and the difficulties that road faces in ever being completed.

Lobbying, political donations and other special interest groups’ tactics used to try and kick start the I-73 project are covered very well.

Anyone considering themselves a true conservative dedicated to low taxes, reduced spending, the elimination of earmarks and smaller government should read it to consider how local politicians elected to the statehouse and Congress are carrying out their campaign pledges.

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Ethics Reform Discussion on Wrong Track

January 10, 2013 10:00 AM
Ethics Reform Discussion on Wrong Track

The current discussion on ethics reform for public officials in South Carolina appears to be veering off the main track that will establish public confidence in the governing process.

The discussion this week appears to be about additional funding for the S.C. Ethics Commission. Extra funding is necessary for this agency, which has been way underfunded for way too long.

According to ethics commission director Herb Hayden, approximately 70 percent of the funding for the agency’s budget comes from fees and fines.

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House Candidate Releases Ethics Reform Plan

October 9, 2012 8:05 PM
House Candidate Releases Ethics Reform Plan

House District 78 candidate Beth Bernstein released a seven-point ethics reform plan for state legislators yesterday.

Bernstein’s plan hits at the root causes of many of the ethics problems we find at the state level. Placing ethics investigations into the hands of an independent agency, rather than by peer panels, and term limits for all legislators would go a long way to improving ethics in the General Assembly.

When Operation Lost Trust erupted 20 years ago, putting both lobbyists and lawmakers in jail, changes were made to state ethics laws. Normally these types of changes are made to tighten laws to eliminate illegal actions.

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Coastal Kickback Scandal to Grand Jury

September 29, 2012 11:26 AM
Coastal Kickback Scandal to Grand Jury

Numerous sources reported in the last 24 hours that presentation of the Coastal Kickback scandal case to a federal grand jury began Thursday.

Beth Drake, the Public Information Officer for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Columbia, S.C. said yesterday it is the policy of the government to comment on investigations only after an arrest warrant or indictment has been issued.

Drake went on to say, in public corruption cases the government normally will issue a press release and usually hold a press conference to make the information public if and when indictments are handed down.

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New Developments in Coastal Kickback?

September 28, 2012 8:41 AM
New Developments in Coastal Kickback?

A lot of buzz is going around the Grand Strand business community that new developments in the Coastal Kickback scandal will be made public shortly.

Coastal Kickback spread $239,500, in campaign donations of questionable legality, to state legislators and Myrtle Beach city council incumbents after passage of a local tourism tax that brings approximately $18 million to the coffers of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce annually. It has been the subject of an over two year investigation by the FBI and IRS.

The talk includes references to an imminent public statement by the U.S. Attorney’s office, possibly as early as today or the beginning of next week.

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Taxes, Coastal Kickback and the Primaries

May 18, 2012 10:06 AM
Taxes, Coastal Kickback and the Primaries

Two of the most extraordinary events I have ever seen occur so close to an election happened this week in Horry County.

The Myrtle Beach city council announced early in the week it will seek to have state legislators eliminate the sunshine provision on the one cent tourism promotion tax so that it can continue indefinitely. Did you ever see politicians want a tax to end even when sunshine provisions are included with it?

One day later, lobbyist Mark Kelley, who includes the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, Coastal Carolina University and the Horry County Board of Education among his clients, sued the Sun News for reporting Kelley’s proximity to certain events in what has become known as the “Coastal Kickback Scandal.”

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Patriot’s Day Brings Tourism Tax Questions

April 16, 2012 7:18 PM
Patriot’s Day Brings Tourism Tax Questions

The third Monday in April is celebrated as Patriot’s Day in Massachusetts and Maine. This is a state holiday that commemorates the battles of Lexington and Concord, April 19, 1775, the first two military engagements of the Revolutionary War. Maine, at that time, was part of Massachusetts.

The underlying tensions that resulted in the conflict were taxes levied on the colonies from Great Britain, most specifically the taxes on lead, paper, paint, glass and tea. Taxation without representation was the cry of the colonials. The Boston Tea Party of December 16, 1773, resulted with the British closing the port of Boston.

After 20 months of tension between the residents of Massachusetts and the British army garrisoned in Boston, the British sent regular forces out from Boston on April 19th to capture weapons stores of the colonial militia. The colonial “Minutemen” resisted beginning the struggle for independence.

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