Documents: Horry County Council chairman admits to Ethics Act violations

Johnny Gardner
Johnny Gardner(WMBF News)
Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 5:58 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) - The South Carolina State Ethics Commission has issued a public reprimand to Horry County Council Chairman Johnny Gardner.

According to a consent order filed before the commission, Gardner admitted to violating the Ethics Act.

This comes after the State Ethics Commission found probable cause earlier this year to support allegations made in a complaint that Gardner had failed to disclose contributions and accepted campaign contributions in excess of $1,000.

A hearing date had originally been set for August to hear these allegations.

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

But prior to that hearing, a consent order filed July 14 said Gardner acknowledged violating the Ethics Act by failing to disclose the accurate source of his campaign loans, and when he accepted those sums of money from Luther Barefoot and Randy Beverly. Barefoot was Gardner’s campaign manager and maintained Gardner’s campaign records and campaign disclosure reports (CDRs), according to the consent order.

The documents say Gardner “acknowledges his ultimate responsibility for his campaign filings and has since amended his CDRs to properly reflect the correct information.”

It also says Gardner returned the excess amount received from Beverly, which amounts to $200, along with the full amount received from Barefoot, $8,700.

Gardner has been ordered to pay the commission $3,650, to encompass a reduced civil penalty as well as an administrative fee.

We have reached out to Gardner for comment but have not heard back yet.

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