Post Tagged with: "SLED"

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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The Dirty Tricks Campaign Against Johnny Gardner

February 4, 2019 4:52 AM
The Dirty Tricks Campaign Against Johnny Gardner

We live in a political climate where dirty tricks are used to create rumors to smear those seen as enemies by the rumormongers.

These rumors, lies are what they really are, come in all shapes and sizes, but they have the same thing in common – to discredit the person they are aimed against.

How well they work depends on the gullibility of the audience they are targeted to influence.

Some of the more ridiculous rumors about public figures we have heard include:

Justice Brett Kavanaugh as a young man attended parties where women were routinely gang raped. That one pushed the envelope too far to be believed.

In late 2015 when Donald Trump had established himself as a serious contender for the Republican nomination, a fake story said he told a magazine in 1998 if he ever ran for president it would be as a Republican because “they’re the dumbest group of voters in the country” and that “he could lie and they’d still eat it up.” Rather than hurt him with Republican voters, Trump went on to win the nomination and election.

In the 2000 primary season, John McCain was accused of fathering an illegitimate black child, which was actually a child from Bangladesh that McCain and his wife adopted. This one stuck a bit with South Carolina voters as George Bush came from behind to win the South Carolina primary and go on to be elected president.

Rumors were circulated about Nikki Haley having multiple affairs during the 2010 primary season, which the voters disregarded. In fact, the rumors were so poorly presented that Haley vaulted from fourth place to win the Republican nomination and go on to twice being elected South Carolina Governor.

More recently, Horry County citizens have been presented with a rumor about county council chairman Johnny Gardner. Interestingly, the Columbia website that played a prominent part in publishing a leaked memo about the fictitious plot from county attorney Arrigo Carotti, written in conjunction with administrator Chris Eldridge, was the same website that played a prominent part in the Haley rumors.

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Was There Malfeasance in Sending the Carotti Memo to SLED?

January 25, 2019 4:25 AM
Was There Malfeasance in Sending the Carotti Memo to SLED?

Much of the county, especially the citizens who voted for Johnny Gardner, are eagerly awaiting a report from SLED exonerating Gardner from the allegations made against him by Horry County Administrator Chris Eldridge and Horry County Attorney Arrigo Carotti.

The SLED investigation into the allegations was called for by Eldridge after Carotti authored a five-page email memo outlining these supposed allegations based solely on hearsay and rumor.

If I had written a story about the chairman, the same story related in the Carotti memo, with the same lack of solid documentation and using only the same rumor, hearsay and gossip used in the memo as my sources, I could justifiably be sued for libel, defamation and reckless disregard for the truth.

And with the rapidity that the memo was leaked and appeared in print, I’m not sure that is not exactly what was done with the reporting to SLED as cover to try and build a whistleblower defense.

But allegations based on rumor and hearsay are specifically excluded from the whistleblower defense. Therefore, it looks like Carotti and Eldridge are far out on a limb while sawing it off behind them.

One definition of malfeasance is the performance by a public official of an act that is legally unjustified. I submit making allegations of wrongdoing with nothing more than rumor, hearsay and gossip to back them up, reporting those allegations to SLED and having them leaked to the media are legally unjustified acts. Therefore, it is not a stretch to say that both Eldridge and Carotti may have committed malfeasance by acts so irresponsible they should be fired.

It is a felony in South Carolina to make a false report to law enforcement officials.

I would further submit that any council member who told Eldridge to send the matter to SLED, as Eldridge claimed in a letter to council, and any council member who tries to shield Eldridge and Carotti from discipline by attempting to justify their acts may also be committing malfeasance because there is nothing legally justified about sending a memo to SLED based entirely on rumor, hearsay and gossip.

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Searching for A False Narrative

January 3, 2019 8:47 AM
Searching for A False Narrative

False narratives appear to have become the standard emanating from some county government officials pursuing personal agendas over the past few years.

The latest is the five-page narrative crafted by county attorney Arrigo Carotti, with some input from county administrator Chris Eldridge, which attempted to place new council chairman Johnny Gardner involved in a nefarious plot that never happened.

Local editorial cartoonist Ed Wilson captured the essence of what went on between Eldridge and Carotti perfectly in the editorial cartoon accompanying this article. Once again, Wilson has demonstrated that a picture is worth 1,000 words.

The two examined snippets of conversations either or both had been party to with Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation CEO Sandy Davis to attempt to find incriminating evidence against Gardner. As Wilson depicts, the search was quite literally to make a mountain out of a molehill.

Eldridge used this bit of creative writing on the part of Carotti as an excuse to call in SLED to investigate. The narrative was also conveniently leaked to a Columbia media outlet to sensationalize the narrative.

This is not the first time a false narrative has been used as a county tactic to attempt to create a certain image in media.

One only has to read the county’s response and counterclaims, as amended, in the Angie Jones lawsuit against Eldridge and the county to view another example.

As I quoted from the amended response and counterclaims in the Jones lawsuit, the county said, “If Jones has any alleged “issues” with regard to staffing and competently and efficiently performing her duties as the Horry County Treasurer, such issues are solely as a result of her mismanagement of her offices and her own decisions, including her decisions to drive out and remove and replace competent long-term employees with friends and political supporters lacking in relevant experience.”

The bit about doing favors for friends and political supporters is strikingly similar to allegations against Gardner.

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Gardner Victory Top Story in 2018

December 31, 2018 7:07 AM
Gardner Victory Top Story in 2018

Johnny Gardner’s primary victory over incumbent Mark Lazarus to become the Chairman of Horry County Council beginning tomorrow is the top story for 2018.

As the incumbent, Lazarus was endorsed by a number of elected officials in the county including U. S. Rep. Tom Rice, most of the county legislative delegation members, his 11 co-members of county council and most of the county’s mayors. He was also supported by most of the Myrtle Beach Chamber crowd and those others in the county who consider themselves power brokers.

Gardner was supported by a vast majority of the employees of Horry County Government including endorsements by the public safety fraternal organizations Horry County Professional Firefighter Local 4345 of the International Association of Firefighters and Coastal Carolina Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 12. He was also supported by a majority of those voters often overlooked by Horry County politicos and power brokers – the average citizens.

The 2018 election cycle was a change cycle in Horry County. Three out of four incumbents who received serious challenges in either the primaries or general election lost and the fourth squeaked by with just over a 30 vote victory margin.

Supporting the concept that Gardner’s victory was the most watched of those four are events that have happened since the June 12th primary.

Horry County voters supported an advisory referendum on changing the state impact fee law to require new development to pay for more of its costs by a nearly three out of four margin (73% to 27%).

Developers rushed to get a number of rezonings approved in the last six months of the year, but not without some significant defeats along the way.

County staff “discovered” that more of the approximately $41 million of hospitality tax revenue could be used for areas such as public safety, infrastructure and recreation than they had previously acknowledged.

Lazarus led a major push to have council pass a resolution approving a contract with the S. C. Department of Transportation for rights of way acquisition, engineering and construction of I-73 in Horry County. Part of that resolution designates $25 million per year of hospitality tax revenue to go into a special road fund for the I-73 project but the resolution is not a hard appropriation of tax dollars.

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Southern Holdings SLED and FBI Coverup

October 19, 2016 5:08 AM
Southern Holdings SLED and FBI Coverup

“New evidence uncovered in documents released by SLED pursuant to a July 2015 Freedom of Information Act request point to the fact that HCPD and SLED never intended to provide the original videotapes to the plaintiffs regardless of court orders, subpoenas or any other legal documents.”

Videotapes of the illegal arrest of Southern Holdings president James Spencer were key pieces of evidence in the lawsuit against Horry County.

Where the original tapes of the arrest could be found were issues of question from the beginning of the case.

Finally, copies of the alleged original videotapes were sent to the plaintiffs (Southern Holdings, Spencer et al) expert analyst Steve Cain in March 2004.

Cain’s analysis gave strong indication that the tape copy he analyzed had been heavily edited. Cain submitted a three-page report in March 2004, to plaintiffs’ counsel in which he noted various anomalies that indicated editing of the tape.

“All of the above anomalies collectively cast serious doubt concerning the authenticity of portions of the original videotape from which this tape was reportedly manufactured by the Horry County Police Department,” read one section of Cain’s report.

Cain furthermore said he “strongly recommended” obtaining the original tape for examination and the original VCR that was used to produce the original tape (in order to confirm the editing, which would prove evidence tampering on the part of HCPD.)

After much court wrangling about the original videotapes, they were allegedly taken to Cain’s laboratory in Wisconsin by Defendants’ attorney Robert E. Lee on October 27, 2004, pursuant to Court Order 109, issued September 7, 2004, by Judge R. Bryan Harwell.

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Press Release: American Execs Tried To Cut Off Al Qaeda Funding Pre 9/11

April 29, 2016 2:06 PM
Press Release: American Execs Tried To Cut Off Al Qaeda Funding Pre 9/11

The news media is filled with reports that the “Saudi kingdom’s involvement was deliberately covered up at the highest levels of our government. And the cover-up goes beyond locking up 28 pages of the Saudi report in a vault in the US Capitol basement. Investigations were throttled. Co-conspirators were let off the hook.” Fox News, Huffington Post, Miami Herald, New York Post, Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Beyond the contents of the 9/11 report allegedly implicating Saudi involvement in the funding of al Qaeda, is the documented information on how the United States Justice Department’s vaunted NCIC system was used in the attempted murder of United States business executives who were unwittingly shutting off Saudi funding to al Qaeda. For the past fifteen years, the surviving business executives have spent their lives to get to the truth of why they were targeted and why the United States Justice Department was actively involved in protecting the perpetrators.

During the fifteen years, they have uncovered links and concrete irrefutable documentation of the involvement of an Assistant Director of the FBI, the office of United States Senator Lindsey Graham, the United States Justice Department, the head of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and a Director in the Office of Homeland Security. The internal documents from the individuals and/or the agencies involved detail how these individuals’ lives were destroyed by illegal actions of the government under the guise of National Security to keep the secret of the Saudi financial involvement in 9/11 from the American public.

Millions of dollars of government funds were used and are still being used to stop this action from reaching a truly independent review in Federal District Court. The local political and geopolitical interest supersedes the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution because of the perceived impact of exposing documentation of both our governments’ actions against the public to protect Saudi interests tied to the funding of the attack on the United States on September 11, 2001 and the Saudis funding 9/11.

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Mia McLeod Requests Better Protection for Clinics

December 1, 2015 4:42 AM
Mia McLeod Requests Better Protection for Clinics

Rep. Mia McLeod calls on Gov. Haley to increase security at women’s health centers in South Carolina

Columbia, SC – On Monday, State Representative Mia McLeod called on Governor Haley to increase security at women’s health centers in South Carolina following the deadly shooting of three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Rep. McLeod (D-Richland) said Governor Haley’s personal politics should take a backseat to the safety and wellbeing of health professionals and patients at South Carolina clinics.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re pro-life or pro-choice, our focus right now should be to make sure what happened in Colorado Springs doesn’t happen in Columbia or Charleston,” said Rep. Mia McLeod. “The anti-Planned Parenthood rhetoric has been more prevalent in South Carolina than anywhere else in the country, and Governor Haley would be wise to tone down her own rhetoric and instead beef up security at our clinics. The safety and wellbeing of patients and those who work at women’s health centers in our state should be our top priority.”

Rep. McLeod said Governor Haley should take seriously the FBI’s warning in September that attacks on women’s health centers were likely.

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Saudi Arabia’s 9/11 Funding Case Now Before the US 4th Circuit Court of Appeals

September 17, 2015 12:32 PM
Saudi Arabia’s 9/11 Funding Case Now Before the US 4th Circuit Court of Appeals

Financial Content | TheState.com Evidence of Obstruction of Justice by the FBI, the Justice Department and the Offices of US Senator Lindsey Graham alleging a cover-up of the Saudi Kingdom’s role in the funding of the al Qaeda 9/11 Attacks on the United States and ISIL terrorism, was presented to […]

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Michael Slager Denied Bond

September 14, 2015 6:00 PM
In this undated photo provided by the North Charleston Police Department shows City Patrolman Michael Thomas Slager. Slager has been charged with murder in the shooting death of a black motorist after a traffic stop. North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey told a news conference that city Slager was arrested and charged Tuesday, April 7, 2015, after law enforcement officials saw a video of the shooting following a Saturday traffic stop. (AP Photo/North Charleston Police Department)

Former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager has been denied bond by Judge Clifton Newman.

Slager, the officer who made international news by shooting a fleeing Walter Scott numerous times on April 4, 2015, will have to stay in jail for now as preparations for his defense go forward.

In his short narrative order filed earlier today, Judge Newman said, “After careful consideration of all the evidence presented and the nature and circumstances of the offense, the Court finds that release of Defendant would constitute an unreasonable danger to the community and the request for release on bond should be denied.”

This ruling was predictable considering how aspects of the case have been handled so far.

While SLED was honoring FOIA requests from media sources about some of the evidence in the case, Slager’s attorneys have made numerous requests for evidence that have been ignored.

A statement from Slager’s attorneys about the decision reads:

“We share Michael’s disappointment in today’s Court decision but remain firmly convinced that following a review of all the evidence, a jury of Michael’s peers will find that he was free of any criminal intent in his actions on April 4, 2015.”

The statement is signed Andrew J. Savage III, Shaun C. Kent, Cameron J. Blazer.

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