Post Tagged with: "Donald Smith"

Negotiations on Eldridge Departure Ongoing, Lawsuits Considered

April 4, 2019 5:00 PM
Negotiations on Eldridge Departure Ongoing, Lawsuits Considered

During the regular meeting of Horry County Council April 2, 2019, Chairman Johnny Gardner informed council members that negotiations regarding the exit of administrator Chris Eldridge are ongoing.

There have been some indications that Eldridge believes he has claims against the county that could result in an exit package of significant dollars.

What Eldridge apparently fails to understand is there are others who have potential claims against him and the apparent conspiracy to defame Gardner and others that began with emails as early as December 12, 2018.

There is no question it is past time for Eldridge to go. Four months have passed since he and attorney Arrigo Carotti began developing a narrative to defame the character and reputation of Gardner.

It has been a month since council deadlocked in a 6-6 vote on a motion to fire Eldridge, allowing him to remain in his position as administrator.

Since that vote, new information has been uncovered through Freedom of Information Act requests that point to a joint effort by Eldridge, Carotti and former chairman Mark Lazarus to develop a narrative that could be brought to SLED for an investigation of Gardner.

Eldridge requested the SLED investigation on December 20, 2018 after Carotti completed a five-page memo containing a narrative for which there were no facts to substantiate the authenticity of the memo’s narrative.

The memo was completed after Lazarus, Eldridge, Carotti and council member Gary Loftus listened on December 19, 2018 to a portion of a recording of a November 30, 2018 lunch meeting between Gardner, Luke Barefoot and Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development (EDC) officials Sandy Davis and Sherri Steele.

On that recording, Carotti and Eldridge alleged there was evidence of attempted extortion of EDC by Gardner and/or Barefoot.

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County Attorney Tried to Directly Influence SLED Investigation

March 23, 2019 11:01 AM
County Attorney Tried to Directly Influence SLED Investigation

New information has surfaced that demonstrates Horry County attorney Arrigo Carotti not only attempted to tell SLED investigators what direction their investigation of Horry County Chairman Johnny Gardner should take but also what conclusions they should and should not draw as a result.

Allegations of extortion against Gardner, began with a five-page memo written by Carotti, from December 14–19, 2018, in concert with input from county administrator Chris Eldridge. The memo also attempted to implicate Luke Barefoot, Donald Smith and myself in this fictitious plot.

Eldridge sent the Carotti memo to SLED December 20, 2018 requesting the agency investigate the allegations, but only after the memo was leaked to and published by a Columbia internet media outlet early in the morning of December 20th.

Eldridge told county council members, during a March 5, 2019 special meeting of council, he sent the memo to SLED only after it was leaked in the media because “he didn’t want to be accused of a cover up.”

Before the results of the SLED investigation were made public, an attorney friend of mine told me his theory on the entire affair was that a civil conspiracy plot had taken place among players who were willing to go to any length to keep Gardner from taking office on January 1, 2019. Are we talking “Deep County” here?

With more and more journalists seeking additional information about the allegations against Gardner through Freedom of Information Act requests and questions of the various people included in this saga, new revelations have come to light in recent days that add significant credence to this theory.

Carotti’s original five-page memo is based completely on hearsay about supposed conversations, none of which Carotti nor Eldridge were party to. In his memo, Carotti states he began writing it on December 14th “as a result of events that have taken place since December 5 as memory fades over time and this debacle is broadening.”

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Blowing the Wrong Whistle

January 15, 2019 8:34 AM
Blowing the Wrong Whistle

As the county awaits the report of the SLED investigation into alleged wrongdoing by county Chairman Johnny Gardner, initiated by County Administrator Chris Eldridge and County Attorney Arrigo Carotti, it appears those two are attempting to couch a defense for their actions in the pose of whistleblowers.

This has been obvious since the January 4, 2019 special meeting of council when both appeared at the meeting with personal attorneys.

The Eldridge letter presented to council members after the special meeting specifically speaks of him being a “target of retaliation” if he is either fired or suspended by council – a classic whistleblower defense.

There is one major fault with this defense. Whistleblowing protections are not extended to those who report potential wrongdoing based on unsubstantiated hearsay and rumors.

According to documents written by Carotti and Eldridge, unsubstantiated hearsay and rumors are all they had to justify the imaginary plot they had developed in their minds.

In its simplest form, that plot goes this way – Gardner campaign manager Luke Barefoot and Gardner, by extension because he accompanied Barefoot to one meeting held on November 30, 2018, with two Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC) officials, attempted to have the EDC pay Gardner campaign consultant Donald Smith so that a rumored negative story about the EDC would not appear in Grand Strand Daily. (Total Rumor)

On or about December 5, 2018, Carotti and Eldridge learned that a tape recording of that meeting existed and, apparently, believed it contained a “smoking gun.”

On December 12, 2018, Eldridge wrote an email to Neyle Wilson, Chairman of the Board of the EDC, sharing “conversation points” (hearsay) EDC CEO Sandy Davis allegedly told to Carotti about that meeting. In the email, Eldridge complained that the EDC had “an unwillingness to share the taped recording” even though the email is part of an email string in which Wilson twice (December 7 and December 12) offered to allow Eldridge to listen to the recording.

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The Eldridge and Carotti Version of Extortion – ‘He Said, He Said, She Said, He Said’

January 7, 2019 3:53 AM
The Eldridge and Carotti Version of Extortion – ‘He Said, He Said, She Said, He Said’

Horry County Administrator Chris Eldridge and Horry County Attorney Arrigo Carotti were left off the hook last Friday when Horry County Council quickly voted to adjourn a meeting rather than drill down on why the two embarrassed the county by calling for a SLED investigation of a rather ridiculous version of events allegedly involving council Chairman Johnny Gardner.

Using alleged here is really a stretch as fantasy much closer describes a five-page email Carotti authored and Eldridge said, in a letter delivered to council members after the meeting, “accurately summarized” what transpired.

If Eldridge and Carotti are to be believed, we have to accept that Gardner attempted to have the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC) funnel “thousands of dollars” (Eldridge words) to Donald Smith (Gardner’s campaign consultant), somehow using the Beach Ball Classic “for political cover” (Carotti words). The EDC board is filled with many of the most prominent and politically connected business people, educators and government officials in the county.

By Carotti’s admission in his email, he began writing the email on the 14th relating events that began on (or before) December 5th. Carotti completed his email on December 19th sending it to Eldridge and the 12 members of county council at that time. The entire email was leaked and published in a Columbia media outlet within 12 hours of its completion.

There are supposedly only 14 people who had initial access to this email. At least one of those was the source of its initial leak. Find the leaker among Eldridge, Carotti and the 12 members of council in December and you will discover not only the reason for the leak, but also the reason the email was written in the first place. The motivation will be political not legal, moral or ethical.

The email contains information Carotti allegedly heard from Davis about conversations she allegedly had with Barefoot. In other words, ‘he said, she said, he said.’ In Eldridge’s case, most of his knowledge was gained from Carotti’s retelling of those conversations, or another way, ’he said, he said, she said, he said.’

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Response to Carotti Email to Council Members

December 20, 2018 11:09 AM
Response to Carotti Email to Council Members

 I received many calls this morning about an article that appeared on the FitsNews.com website today. The article included a reproduction of a five-page email county attorney Arrigo Carotti sent to the 12 current members of county council and county administrator Chris Eldridge last night.

It did not take long for the email to be leaked to FitsNews last night, almost as if it was planned.

In response to the media article and the information Council Members received from Carotti, I sent an email containing the following message to council members, Carotti, Eldridge and Donald Smith:

Council Members,

I was surprised to be told this morning that an article today in FitsNews included reproduction of a five page email from Arrigo Carotti to Chris Eldridge and the current 12 members of county council in which my name was included in events that never happened.

Carotti said in his concluding sentence that the email was written to the best of his recollection.

Let’s expand on that, it included statements that could be interpreted as pointing to possible criminal acts. These statements were made, to the best of Carotti’s recollection, about a conversation he had with Sandy Davis about a conversation she supposedly had with Luke Barefoot, presumably to the best of her recollection.

This is hearsay at its worst!

Now let’s get to the crux of the matter.

In his email, Carotti says Davis told him that Barefoot told her, “that Paul Gable was getting ready to print an article against the EDC pointing out her lack of education specifically, and that she could head that off, and any similar blogs in the future,  by retaining Donald Smith to do the EDC’s public relations.”

The problem with that statement is I never talked to Luke Barefoot, or anyone else, about doing an article about Sandy Davis’ education. I never had in my mind at any time doing such an article. I have certainly written many articles criticizing the EDC and Partners before it about the organization’s many missteps in including businesses such as AvCraft and Project Blue, to name two, in its economic development efforts.

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Bob Kelly Alleges Conspiracy By Opponents

February 22, 2016 5:00 AM
Bob Kelly Alleges Conspiracy By Opponents

Bob Kelly, the loser of the recent Horry County District Three special general election, attempted to set a new low in Horry County politics during the campaign.

Shortly after securing the Republican nomination for the election, Kelly filed papers with the SC Attorney General, Horry County Solicitor and SC Ethics Commission alleging a criminal conspiracy among all of his primary opponents and various other politicos in the county.

According to those papers, Kelly was assisted by his campaign manager Jim Wiles in these attempts to spur investigations.

Kelly told us many times during the campaign that he was a 25 year veteran of law enforcement in New Jersey and, according to Pennsylvania Bar Association postings, Wiles is a suspended former lawyer.

However, the attempt to describe a conspiracy in Kelly’s submission to the above named agencies reads more like a plot line for a new “Dumb and Dumber” sequel.

The alleged conspiracy revolves around robocalls that claimed to be sent by “The Friends of Bob Kelly” during the primary election.

Robocalls to cell phones are illegal by federal statute (although that didn’t seem to stop the Republican presidential candidates from making them during the recent SC primary campaign). Violations of the federal statute come under the investigative purview of the Federal Communications Commission.

Robocalls are not illegal according to any South Carolina statute.

Nevertheless, Kelly asked the Attorney General and Horry County Solicitor to bring a “charge of felony conspiracy with multiple counts … of misdemeanor harassment” against a list of people including all of his Republican primary opponents.

It must be noted that Kelly offered no evidence, other than supposition, that his opponents were involved with the robocalls and his alleged criminal conspiracy.

It’s almost as if Kelly is saying, I had a dream the other night that my opponents were involved in a conspiracy against me. Therefore, they should be charged with criminal conspiracy.

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Bubba Owens Camp Requests Investigations

November 15, 2015 7:20 AM
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The Bubba Owens campaign team is requesting investigations into the attempted bribes and illegal robocalls that have plagued the Horry District 3 special election.

After receiving opinions from two respected attorneys of good standing with experience in the workings of both state and federal election law in particular, the Owens camp is in the process of turning over to authorities all information it has with respect to the Bob Kelly campaign’s attempt to get Owens to drop out of the primary runoff.

According to the Owens camp, this information will include the key November 6, 2015 voicemail that enunciates the bribe along with other supporting voicemails, emails and other documents.

After reviewing the November 6th voicemail sent by Kelly campaign consultant Jim Wiles to Owens campaign consultant Donald Smith, and other evidence, both attorneys came to the same opinion. They stated there is no other way to interpret the November 6th voicemail than that it was a clear attempt to induce Owens to drop out of the race in exchange for receipt of something of value.

A portion of that voicemail states, “… give Kelly a shopping list of what they (Owens and his consultants) want for downtown Myrtle Beach in exchange for Bubba dropping out…”

Both said to say there must be an exchange of money to constitute a bribe, as a college professor opined in a local media, is to totally misunderstand the law. The laundry list for Bob Kelly to commit to represents value in their opinion.

Kelly told several local media outlets that he knew nothing of the Wiles voicemail until it was reported in the media. However, other voicemails and emails included in the evidence appear to contradict that position.

Kelly and his campaign consultant are complaining of recent robocalls, made by a group calling itself “Friends of Bob Kelly”, as being negative hits on him.

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Executive Producer Talks “Big Talk”

October 3, 2013 8:18 AM
Executive Producer Talks “Big Talk”

One month into the new politically oriented television show, “Big Talk”, Donald Smith the executive producer said the show is coming along as he expected.

“You always go through a learning cycle in the beginning getting the lighting and sound right and melding the personalities on the set,” said Smith. “We are right at the point I thought we would be after one month.”

Talking politics is considered a no-no in polite society, especially when there are three people with strong opinions doing the talking. The three, Jack Murphy, Jon Bonsignor and Paul Gable encompass most of the political spectrum between them.

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Lucky Dog Television Productions and Politics

December 3, 2011 3:50 PM
Lucky Dog Television Productions and Politics

Even as a young boy, Donald Smith, owner of Lucky Dog Television Productions, had an entrepreneurial spirit.

“I was always looking for ways to make money,” said Smith.

Growing up in a rural town in South Carolina, Smith’s early endeavors concentrated on farming. By the time he was a senior in high school, he had prepared himself to open his own business.

“I spent several years working part-time in the farm supply business,” said Smith. “I decided to open my own business when I graduated.”

Smith said telling his father that he did not want to go to college was one of the toughest moments of his life.

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