SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A Surfside Beach councilman says he's devastated after being compared to Saddam Hussein in a political flyer that circulated ahead of Tuesday's general election.
Town Councilman Tim Courtney, who is running for re-election, said the flyer hit home for his entire family.
"We actually cried. It hurt hard," said Courtney, a former New York policeman. "My wife survived 9/11, I worked 9/11. I had friends that were killed in 9/11. This is a slap in the face."
According to Courtney, what hurt even more was that his daughter is the one who first saw the flyer.
"My 11-year-old went out and got the mail and she couldn't understand why I would be linked to a terrorist," he said.
The flyer shows stop signs in the background of Courtney's picture. Fellow Councilman Randle Stevens said they were put up by Courtney's house in 2016.
"They're thinking he put up stop signs for himself, but I've been on council since 2012. All those people down there have been wanting stop signs because all the people have been speeding down that road," said Stevens.
During a March council meeting, the director of public works said he was instructed to put up the signs by the former town administrator, but later found out she did not get permission from the South Carolina Department of Transportation.
"I presented it again and said this is the problem we have. They've been up for two years," said Courtney.
The flyer states it was paid for by a group called Surfside Strong. It wasn't the only one sent out by the organization.
"The same people who advertised Mr. Courtney advertised for a person who's never been on council and also Mr. Pellegrino, but they put a positive ad on them," said Stevens.
The wife of David Pellegrino, who is also seeking to keep his seat on town council, said she had no idea about the flyers and wasn't happy about any of them.
"We had three that came yesterday and the one that made me the most angry, because without my permission they had a picture of our son on there as well as our address and that made me really angry," said Elizabeth Pellegrino.