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Who Pays For The Perfect Myrtle Beach Crime?

Shep Guyton

Who Pays For The Perfect Myrtle Beach Crime?

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MyHorrynews.com reported on Friday: Robert “Shep” Guyton, the Myrtle Beach attorney who funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations through more than a dozen corporations in 2009, faces 167 state ethics charges, most stemming from excessive contributions to candidates for local and state offices, according to public records.

Guyton, a former chairman of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce board, could not be reached for comment Friday. He was originally scheduled to appear before the ethics commission in 2010, but ethics officials said they waited to pursue the case until federal authorities completed a criminal investigation.

Herb Hayden, the commission’s executive director, said he was recently told the U.S. Department of Justice had declined to prosecute the case. Once he receives an official notice from the DOJ, Hayden said the ethics commission will schedule a hearing on Guyton’s ethics charges, possibly as early as February.

  Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes, who received some of the Guyton donations, said he did not know about the ethics case until he was contacted by the Myrtle Beach Herald. Rhodes did say he recently learned federal officials were abandoning their investigation.

I thought that when the FBI closed the case, it was over,” Rhodes said. “This is honestly the first I’ve heard about this.”

 On June 8, 2009, numerous cashiers checks were issued from South Atlantic Bank payable to at least a dozen political candidates, records show.    Although the checks listed different corporations, the money did not come from those companies, according to the complaint. The ethics commission concluded the contributions were made from a bank account Guyton controlled and thus they exceeded the legal limit.

The commission’s 61-page hearing notice spells out the allegations against Guyton:

• He made excessive campaign contributions to Rhodes, Myrtle Beach City Councilman Wayne Gray, Myrtle Beach City Councilman Randal Wallace, former Myrtle Beach City Councilman Chuck Martino, state Sen. Ray Cleary, state Rep. Alan Clemmons, former state Rep. Liston Barfield, former state Rep. Thad Viers, former state Rep. Nelson Hardwick and former state Rep. George Hearn by making the maximum personal donations and then funneling other $1,000 contributions through companies he personally funded.

• He made excessive contributions to three political committees (Myrtle Beach Residents for Tourism, Local Residents for Tourism and Good Government for Myrtle Beach) by making the maximum contributions through his personal business and $3,500 through other corporations.

News of the contributions initially drew criticism from some business leaders who said the local donations appeared to be payback for politicians’ support of the Myrtle Beach tourism tax, which passed in 2009.

The tax adds a one percent sales tax to most retail purchases. Most proceeds of the tax are given to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce to promote tourism.

Brad Dean, President Myrtle Beach Area Chamber
Brad Dean, President
Myrtle Beach Area Chamber

Myrtle Beach Chamber

Chamber President Brad Dean also said he delivered an envelope filled with checks to his friend Barrett in June 2009, but he said he did so only to ensure that checks mailed to the chamber were properly delivered.

 Some local leaders were interviewed by the FBI and the IRS after the investigation began. Former state Rep. Tracy Edge, who did not accept any of the questioned contributions, said federal authorities told him they became suspicious of the donations after learning that some of the corporations that had donated money were facing foreclosure lawsuits and because of the cashier’s checks from South Atlantic Bank, where Guyton was a board member.

Wallace, the Myrtle Beach councilman, was also interviewed by federal authorities. Like the mayor, he said he’d heard the federal case was closed. However, he had not heard about the ethics case against Guyton.

I never dealt with Shep directly during this,” Randall Wallace said. “Brant Branham delivered the checks to me and I didn’t think anything was unusual about it. Shep is a friend of mine and I wish him well.”

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Who Pays For The Perfect Myrtle Beach Crime?

The MyHorrynews article ends with a quote by Randall Wallace stating, “I wish him well”?   Tom O’dare’s reporting is spotless.  It does leave open the question of who pays.

The Coastal Kickback was nothing more than a crime committed by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce (and its most powerful members) against the merchants and residents of Myrtle Beach.

A few took this crime to their death.  Others used this criminal activity to springboard to local and state offices.   One key chamber leader leveraged this crime to move into a Federally elected office.

Who pays?  We do.  The tourists do.  Local residents do.

This crime created the most powerful political organization in our state.  The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce is now a political machine.

Drunk on the taxes from this very crime,  The Myrtle Beach Chamber and Mayor Rhodes  just brought communist Chinese into our town to discuss the redevelopment of our former pavilion area.

Myrtle Beach tourists and residents will be paying for this crime many years to come.

 

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About David Hucks

Born in 1961, David is a 12th generation descendant of the area we now call Myrtle Beach, S.C. David attended Coastal Carolina University and like most of his family, has never left the area. David is the lead journalist at MyrtleBeachSC.com

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