At Wednesday’s Chamber of Commerce sponsored business community Governor’s Forum, held in Kiawah Island, four of the six 2018 candidates for South Carolina governor discussed issues including taxes, workforce issues, health care, education, and Chamber of Commerce related PAC campaign funding.
Charleston businessman, and candidate in the S.C. Governor’s race, Phil Noble challenged the S.C. Chamber of Commerce to shut down its political action committee, operating under the name the “Good Government Committee”.
Asked Noble, “When Gov. Nikki Haley called you guys after the Emanuel 9 shooting about taking down the Confederate flag, you all said you would support it,” he said. “You guys as a chamber helped do that. And now, I’m going to ask you to do it again. This time, with corruption. The root cause of it, the corruption, is money. I challenge you guys to take a stand and shut down your PAC. Will you do it?”
“You guys are the biggest dog in the yard. For you to say we’re not going to play that game would send a message,” Noble continued. “I hope you will consider it during your board meeting this afternoon.”
With two top S.C. Political Consultants including Richard Quinn and Indicted Representative Jim Merrill, officially embroiled in Solicitor David Pascoe’s statewide political corruption investigation, coupled with revelations that U.S. Congressman Tom Rice’s political consultant was paid $24,935 by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce in tourist tax funding, local pundits expect Chamber of Commerce PACs to be a key political issue in all 2018 Fall elections.
In 2018, (on its most popular fee model) locally the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber (MBACC) will charge each Hotel and Condo related member $30,000 for each URL the brand promotes on the Chamber’s website. $28,000 of these fees will go to MBACC. $2,000 of these fees will go directly to a MBACC associated PAC. A well known MBACC associated PAC is the Grand Strand Business Alliance.
For the hotel group Oceana Resorts, who owns 9 branded URLs, the total investment would be $270,000 with $18,000 of those funds going to a MBACC associated PAC, if the brand uses the most popular model and promotes all properties.
The PAC then spends those dollars working to keep incumbents in office, or get new “Chamber preferred” candidates elected.
Once elected, those officials then ensure the funds keep coming back to MBACC.
2017 was the first year in the state of S.C. that the Chamber of Commerce’s state-wide systems became an issue in local elections. The issues were front and center in both the District 56 Horry County elections as well as the Myrtle Beach City Council and Mayoral elections. While the District 56 elections were won by the MBACC preferred candidate, the Chamber did not fair as well in the city of Myrtle Beach elections, losing two key incumbent seats.
The Tourist Tax (TDF) will be put on the ballot in North Myrtle Beach on March 6, 2018 for a special voter referendum. Extension of the Myrtle Beach TDF is also expected to be placed on a referendum ballot in 2018 as well.