Horry County Council chairman faces 6 ethics complaints in connection to campaign contributions

Horry County Council chairman faces 6 ethics complaints in connection to campaign contributions

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – The leader of the Horry County Council is accused of failing to disclose campaign contributions, according to the State Ethics Commission.

WMBF News obtained documents that show a complaint made by William Martin Jr. was filed in February 2020 against Chairman Johnny Gardner.

The complaint asked the State Ethics Commission to open an investigation into Gardner, where Martin accused him of failing to file quarterly ethics reports and also questioned loans from Gardner’s law firm to his campaign.

After an investigation, the State Ethics Commission found probable cause to support allegations made in the complaint.

A notice of hearing from the commission listed out the following four counts of failure to disclose contributions and two counts of accepting campaign contributions in excess of $1,000:

  • Failed to disclose a $20,000 loan from Anderson State Bank on his 2018 Pre-Election Campaign Disclosure Report
  • Failed to disclose $50,000 loan from Anderson State Bank on his October 10, 2018 Quarterly Campaign Disclosure Report
  • Failed to disclose a $1,200 contribution from Randy Beverly on his April 10, 2019 Quarterly Campaign Disclosure Report
  • Failed to disclose a $8,700 contribution from Luke Barefoot on his July 10, 2018 Quarterly Campaign Disclosure Report
  • Accepted a contribution in the amount of $1,200 from Randy Beverly
  • Accepted a contribution in the amount of $8,700 from Luke Barefoot

The State Ethics Commission will hold a formal hearing on this case on Aug. 19, 2021. During the hearing, Gardner will have the right to legal representation, and to call and examine witnesses. The hearing will be open to the public.

The State Ethics Commission’s website shows that if found guilty, the commission may recommend administrative action or disciplinary action, issue a public warning or reprimand, order restitution and levy a civil penalty of not more than $2,000.

WMBF News has made multiple attempts to reach out to Gardner to get a comment. We are waiting to hear back.

We have also reached out to Martin, the complainant. We are waiting to hear back.

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