Horry County Attorney Arrigo Carroti recently reversed Horry County’s position on 112 allegations the county used in 2015 to force a popular attraction, Skydive Myrtle Beach, out of business.
MyrtleBeachSC.com obtained the following email exchange where S.C. District 104 Representative Greg Duckworth referred the matter to S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson’s office to determine if a criminal investigation of Horry County should proceed.
MyrtleBeachSC.com then reached out to the S.C. Attorney General’s office as to whether a criminal investigation of Mr. Carroti and Horry County Council is now underway. We received the following from Mr. Robert Kittle, Communications Director – SC Attorney General’s Office
|Aug 17 (3 days ago)|
Just wanted to let you know I am still working on this. What I have found out so far is that we looked into this in 2016 and determined that it was a civil matter, not criminal, but that was before this new information.
I’ll let you know when I find out anything.
While Horry County Council awaits S.C. Attorney General Wilson’s response, news reports statewide indicate the S.C. A.G is now currently under his own FBI and S.C. State ethics investigation for emailing political consultant Richard Quinn concerning a state-wide criminal probe now in process with a special prosecutor.
Ethics experts said that in October 2014, Wilson should not have asked his longtime political consultant and friend Richard Quinn Sr. to help edit a letter that would have informed independent prosecutor David Pascoe that he would play no further role in any future prosecutions stemming from an investigation into State House corruption.
“Clearly, he shouldn’t have been buddy-buddy with one of the subjects of the investigation and given them confidential information, which just about anybody who knows anything about legal ethics knows is flat wrong,” said John Freeman, ethics and business professor emeritus at the University of South Carolina School of Law.
S.C. Governor Henry McMaster, this week, spoke to the many statewide calling for the resignation of S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson.
Gov. Henry McMaster called it “inappropriate” for state Attorney General Alan Wilson to email a letter to his political consultant — a potential Statehouse probe target — about ousting the prosecutor leading the investigation.
“All prosecutors must be very careful about information and about the release of information to anyone not involved in the investigation,” McMaster said Wednesday.
While it appears Horry County and S.C. State Government are both in free fall, the 112 false allegations created by Horry County still have the private attraction, Myrtle Beach Skydive, grounded.
Below is investigative journalist Paul Gable’s latest revelation.
Another Twist in the Skydive Myrtle Beach Controversy
Another interesting twist has appeared related to the Skydive Myrtle Beach controversy with Horry County over the county’s closing of the Skydive Myrtle Beach business.
Nearly two years ago, the county used a Director’s Determination by the Federal Aviation Administration to close the landing zone for skydivers at Grand Strand Airport and evict Skydive Myrtle Beach from a hangar at that airport.
The Director’s Determination was based on 112 alleged safety violations committed by Skydive Myrtle Beach, which were documented and reported by Horry County Department of Airports personnel and/or Robinson Aviation personnel who are contracted by the county to staff the control tower at Grand Strand Airport.
In a recent post about the ongoing controversy, we quoted a letter by Horry County Attorney Arrigo Carotti that backed away from calling the documents proof of safety violations by SDMB.
Carotti’s letter, which was included with a response to a FOIA request for documents related to SDMB safety violations, stated, in part, the documents provided “may or may not demonstrate violation by Skydive Myrtle Beach of Horry County Department of Airports Minimum Standards, as that assessment has not been undertaken.”
Several days after the story was posted, the following was contained in an email to at least one county council member:
“On Aug 15, 2017, at 11:24 AM, Carotti, Arrigo <CarottiA@HorryCounty.org> wrote:
The misrepresentation of facts and the law has been ongoing on the part of Mr. Holly, misguided bloggers, and Holly surrogates for several years now, involving universally unsuccessful litigation by Holly, and pending litigation against the FAA, the State of South Carolina, Horry County, officials and employees. There have been no new admissions, the FAA’s and County’s sound positions in the matter remaining the same. Defamatory commentary on the part of Holly and his surrogates also has been ongoing and is expected to continue, but has been rightfully dismissed by all who have discerned the true set of affairs, borne out in voluminous court documents and public records.
Arrigo P. Carotti / County Attorney”
The above email may be Carotti’s way of voicing the popular Trumpism “fake news.”
With respect to the alleged misrepresentation of facts and the question of whether there have or have not been new admissions by the county and whether the county’s “sound position” remains the same, we offer the following example contained in that voluminous record:
On April 7, 2015, Heather Haney, a Compliance Specialist in the FAA’s Southern Region Airports Division in Atlanta, GA, sent a letter of inquiry to then Horry County Airport Director Pat Apone querying, among other things, whether Horry County had “rules and regulations regarding the management of ground operations in the airport movement area.” Haney’s letter noted eight incidents (of the 112 reported to the FAA by Horry County) before asking the question.
In a letter dated April 27, 2015 answering Haney’s queries, Apone included the following statement, “CRE (Grand Strand Airport) has rules and regulations regarding the management of ground operations in the airport movement area…In addition, the Minimum Standards both incorporate those rules and regulations by reference, but also contain numerous requirements that have been violated by SDMB (Skydive Myrtle Beach).”
However, in responding to an FOIA request for safety violations by SDMB, the county sent 126 pages of documentation relating to 112 alleged safety violation incidents by SDMB, including the eight queried by Haney, with Carotti’s cover letter.
The letters, safety incident reports and HCDA Minimum Standards are all included in the “voluminous court documents and public records Carotti’s above quoted email refers to.
In April 2015, Apone unequivocally stated SDMB violated rules, regulations and requirements in the Department of Airports Minimum Standards. In August 2017, Carotti’s letter states the documents sent in response to the FOIA request, may or may not demonstrate Skydive Myrtle Beach violated the Minimum Standards, even though those are the same documents Horry County sent to the FAA as proof of SDMB violations.
It certainly seems that Carotti’s letter and Apone’s letter contradict each other. But, according to Carotti’s email, there have been no new admissions and the county’s “sound positions’ in the matter remain the same.
I agree with Carotti that the misrepresentation of facts and law have been an ongoing process in the case of Skydive Myrtle Beach v. Horry County. However, I disagree with him that the responsibility for these actions rests with Mr. Holly, misguided bloggers and Holly surrogates.