S.C. Senator Luke Rankin, Horry County Councilman Tyler Servant, Trafalgar Group Political Consultant Robert Cahaly, MyHorryNews’ Christian Buschult, The South Carolina Industry Project PAC, and the daughters of indicted political consultant Richard Quinn are all named in a lawsuit filed today by former Senate 33 candidate John Gallman.
Gallman primaried Rankin last June in what political strategists are now calling the dirtiest campaign in the history of S.C. politics.
According to the complaint, on or about June 2, 2020, a dossier purportedly containing documents selected from John Gallman’s divorce file were distributed to numerous media organizations across the state.
The brief states that MyHorryNews was one of those outlets receiving the dossier. Fitsnews of Columbia also received the dossier, but refused to run an article.
Christian Boschult is a journalist employed by MyHorryNews. Boschult wrote an article of which the contents for TV ads and campaign flyers were created before the article ever ran.
The legal complaint states: Upon information and belief, this packet of information was paid for by Defendant Rankin and distributed to numerous media outlets around the State of South Carolina. Within these documents, the confidential mental health records of Plaintiff’s 10 year old daughter were included. More specifically, the Dossier purported to contain forensic interview notes from the Children’s Recovery Center in Horry County.
Those interview notes were from an investigation concerning possible abuse by a third-party against the 10 year old daughter of Gallman. These records are statutorily protected and confidential pursuant to S.C. Code § 19-11-95, S.C. Code § 44-22-100, and S.C. Code § 62-11-310.
The Children’s Recovery Center (CRC) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization offering child advocacy center programs in Horry and Georgetown Counties in South Carolina. All documents from CRC were confidential and protected from disclosure under S.C. Code § 19-11-95, S.C. Code § 44-22-100, and S.C. Children’s Code.
After receipt of the Dossier, the Boschult Group published an article on June 16, 2020, seven days before the runoff election.
The Boschult Group refused to review the evidence possessed and offered by Plaintiff that demonstrated that the incomplete and misleading information in the family court documents was false.
The Boschult Group refused to publish or reference the evidence offered by Plaintiff that demonstrated the allegations of abuse were false.
The Boschult Group refused Plaintiff’s invitation to review the entire Family Court file to obtain the truth of the allegations.
The Boschult Group refused a plea from Plaintiff to not drag his 10 year old daughter into a political mudslinging contest. The news article published by the Boschult group actually states: “Notes from a Children’s Recovery Center interview show that Gallman’s minor daughter alleged he had hit mom on more than one occasion, and that he would frequently yell at her.”
These statements made by the daughter were later recanted. The Rankin Group directly referenced the Boschult group’s defamatory and illegal article in its campaign advertisements.
The Boschult group’s defamatory and illegal article was quoted by the Emerson Group in the ad purchases made on behalf of the AIP Group in television and printed media. The mailer accused Plaintiff of being a child kidnapper by prominently displaying the words “Amber Alert Threat” next to Gallman’s name.
The Orders in the Family Court file repeatedly found no evidence of spousal and/or child abuse.
Despite knowing that the allegations were untrue, Rankin flooded the airwaves, mail services, and social media sites with direct quotes from the Boschult article disclosing the confidential mental health records of a 10 year old girl.
Recovery Center Asks Rankin To Cease and Desist
The Director of the Children’s Recovery Center, Louise Carson, learned of the disclosure of a minor’s mental health records and contacted Defendant Rankin’s office. Ms. Carson informed his office that the news article was disseminating the confidential mental health records of a minor.
Rankin’s office responded “what would you have us do?” Ms. Carson requested that the advertisements be taken down immediately.
Despite the direct request from CRC to stop, Rankin and associates continued to publish television and social media ads that contained direct references to the illegally disclosed mental health records of Plaintiff’s 10 year old daughter.
ADS PRODUCED BEFORE ARTICLE WAS PUBLISHED – COLLUSION?
At 12:25pm on the same day that Boschult Group published its defamatory article based on the Dossier, the Emerson Group submitted a professionally produced, 30 sec advertisement entitled “LRLindsayFinal” to be televised on local station WMBF.
Upon information and belief, LRLinsdayFinal references the Dossier and quotes the Boschult Group article that had yet to be published.
THE HANDLERS: COUNCILMAN SERVANT AND SCIP’s COORDINATED EFFORT
The South Carolina Industry Project is a political action committee. (PAC) The complaint also states: Pursuant to South Carolina and federal law, political action committees cannot coordinate with political candidates or publish ads that either support a targeted candidate or attack the opponent of a targeted candidate.
The actions of Defendants qualify as “coordinated communications” under the Federal Election Commission’s regulations and should have been disclosed to the South Carolina Ethics Commission. More specifically, Horry County Councilman Tyler Servant violated South Carolina law by donating money to another republican candidate in violation of S.C. Code § 8-13-1340, which constitutes a misdemeanor under South Carolina law.
Upon information and belief, the Emerson Group, the AIP Group, and the Rankin Group were either privy to the Dossier and/or the news article published by the Boschult Group before June 16, 2020.
GARISH 911 CAMPAIGN ADS
One or more of the defendants created a television ad that purported to be a 911 call made by the ex-wife of Plaintiff. However, this 911 call was fake, as John Gallman made the 911 call himself, not his ex-wife.
The fake 911 call was ordered and paid for by Julie Emerson and Laginappe Communications Group on behalf of the SC Industry Project on June 17, 2020. The name of the advertisement is “SC Industry 911 Call.”
In the “SC Industry 911 Call,” a quote from Gallman’s ex-wife is read aloud in an ominous tone while the sound of terrified breathing goes on in the background.
SCIndustry911 Call also prominently displays the illegally obtained mental health records of Plaintiff’s minor child across the entire screen.
JUDGE REMOVED FOR CAUSE
After the campaign runoff concluded, Family Court Judge Bromell Holmes (Appointed by Luke Rankin and the JMSC) was removed from the case for cause.
Gallman has never been charged nor accused by authorities of any crimes related to his ex-wife nor his family.
The lawsuit contends the false campaign allegations cost Gallman clients. Gallman works as a senior level financial advisor in Horry County.