Posts Tagged ‘Chad Connelly


Was Katon in on the hit? (And other thoughts)
Originally uploaded by johnvierdsen

While the national media is content to stay on the story that SCGOP chairman Katon Dawson was a member of all-white Forest Lake Country Club for 12 years (which made the “Rachel Maddow Show“ tonight) before he was forced to resign because of media inquiries (and was an officer of an elite cotillion that had events at the club), there is still way more than meets the eye, when you start looking.

Since The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder reported Dawson was looking at the RNC chairmanship as early as October 2007, it is no surprise that the party started shelling out the big bucks for plane tickets (On Expedia! On Orbitz! On US Air! Fly away, fly away, fly away to the District!) and hotel rooms in DC that had no direct connection to official party business over the past year.

There is also the issue with the party’s credit cards. Boy, that sure is a nice way to hide expenditures. With certain members of the party in the General Assembly working hard for transparency in state government, why isn’t KD just paying out the money straight, so we all know, and especially party contributors know, where the money is going?

Then there’s the issue with the S.C. Club for Growth plan to take on Republican legislators in the primaries. No national journalist has looked seriously at how divided the SCGOP has been during Dawson’s tenure. Republicans win handily in this state because South Carolina is heavily conservative.

Consider the fact that, according to the “hit list“ proposal, Starboard Communications was supposed to be the consulting firm at the center of operations. Dawson and firm founder Walter Whetsell are considered to be as thick as thieves.

Le Frye (formerly of SCRG) and B.J. Boling (formerly of RQ&A and the McCain campaign) were supposed to be in the middle of things, and moved over to Starboard. The widely-circulated proposal lists the people in the operation.


Josh Gross, former SCCfG executive director, moved over as well, and did mail out of Starboard for the Sandlapper Group’s clients. Don’t forget, Sandlapper, which was founded in November of 2007, is led by Chad Connelly, an SCRG board member, and Taft Matney, spokesman for Conservatives in Action.

Then came Dawson’s puff piece interview with Howard Rich at Dawson’s house (produced by SCRG). Rich heavily funded several of Starboard’s clients and all of Sandlapper’s during the primaries.

How much money has the state party sent Starboard’s way? More than a few bucks, for sure (on both Federal and state accounts):

10/22/08: $67.04 (?)
10/20/08: $53,800.48
10/16/08: $6,851.01
9/26/08: $6,768
8/12/08: $3,186.84
6/26/08: $7,130.96
5/13/08: $19,598.06
3/3/08: $2,500
2/15/08: $2,751
2/1/08: $6,396.21
2/1/08: $8,741.64
1/15/08: $5,165.58
1/15/08: $1,923.76
1/14/08: $467.27
10/11/07: $6,926.23
8/6/07: $2,450
TOTAL: $134,724.08

Wow. That is a nice haul from one client over an election cycle. If the RNC members want someone who will preside over a united party and not pick one side over another, maybe ol’ Katon isn’t the guy.


Action among the losers
Originally uploaded by johnvierdsen

People rarely check up on what’s going on in the campaign accounts of losing candidates. It’s not liable to be newsworthy or politically relevant.

Then there’s blogs, thankfully.

Katrina Shealy, who got about $50,000 from Howard Rich and his friends, then nailed by Sen. Jake Knotts in the runoff, is still paying her consultants. Starboard Communications got $15,000 from Shealy on Sept. 1, about two and a half months after the election. She also paid $561 to Nelson Mullins on Sept. 28 for a “legal opinion.” That’s a little odd. Sure, a campaign may put an attorney on retainer during the race to run things by them, but a “legal opinion” in late September, three months after the election?

Two of the SCRG/Conservatives in Action-tied Sandlapper Group‘s losing candidates are still paying those guys, too. Ed Rumsey, who got absolutely obliterated in his race for HD-2, paid Chad Connelly and Taft Matney $20,000. Kyle Boyd, who lost to Rep. Carl Gullick, sent $14,481.14 Sandlapper’s way.

Joe Bustos, who lost to Mike Sottile in HD-112, has lauched a camapaign for mayor of Mt. Pleasant and has hired Rod Shealy to run that race.


SCRG still using out-of-state mailhouses

Notice the bulk mail stamp on this page of a South Carolinians for Responsible Government mailer in the S.C. Senate District 11 race between Mike Gardner and Sen. Glenn Reese. It’s showing “Rickland Direct,” a firm out of Richmond, Va. Come on, Bozo the Clown – you couldn’t find a mailhouse in South Carolina that will print your awful garbage?

And, oh yeah, Gardner is a client of the Sandlapper Group. Vierdsen’s shocked, shocked, that SCRG’s involved in this race.

SCRG has officially entered the Senate District 11 race [Crazyworld/The Herald-Journal]


BBQ & Politics has lowdown on the lowdown

Like in football, the offseason (or, in this case, the deadening boredom of summer) is a good time to crunch numbers and glean what you can from prior efforts. Ross Shealy at Barbecue & Politics ran the stats on the Sandlapper Group’s candidates, and as you can see above, there was really no surprise. When you have a consulting firm founded by a guy from SCRG and another from Conservatives in Action, formed just last November for the ’08 primaries, it’s really no surprise who its candidates were and the piles of cash they got from Howard Rich and friends.

One of their recruited puppets, Kyle Boyd, received over half his cash from Rich and took his sweet time in revealing it. He didn’t even report the $37,232.37 he paid Sandlapper in May and June until Saturday. What’s the hold up?

The funny thing about Sandlapper is that instantly after forming, it led a “grassroots training seminar” in places like Irmo, Rock Hill and Clemson. Who were the sponsors for this event? SCRG, the South Carolina Association of Christian Schools, the South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools and Chad Connelly’s Freedom Tide organization.

Speakers at those seminars included Walter Whetsell of Starboard Communications, Sen. Kevin Bryant, Sen. Danny Verdin, former Gov. David Beasley and the Palmetto Family Council’s Oran Smith.

But, yeah – there was no massive, organized effort in this state, financed by Howard Rich, to elect school choice drones while pulling wool over the eyes of the voters. That’s just a fantasy.


Kyle Boyd still hasn’t updated his July 10 disclosure report
Originally uploaded by johnvierdsen

Remember, oh, way back when former S.C. House District 48 candidate Kyle Boyd filed his July 10 disclosure report? Yeah, it’s funny because he sent that bastard in about nine days after the deadline.

Of course, the report showed that he spent no money and received no money between the pre-election report and the June 10 primary. Damn – he was able to get 48 percent of the vote without having to spend a dime in the last two weeks? Not bad!

Is he still trying to figure out how to disclose all that Howard Rich money he got? It it that he and the Sandlapper Group guys are having trouble settling up the bill?

Come on, Kyle – we want to how how much into hock you are to SCRG, S.C. Club for Growth and Howard Rich.


Howard Rich’s Joey Millwood threatened by Doug Brannon (updated)
Originally uploaded by johnvierdsen

Believe it or not, “journalist” Joey Millwood, the Republican nominee in S.C. House District 38, may well get his comeuppance against possible petition candidate Doug Brannon.

Brannon, a Republican, is the former mayor of Landrum and decided to mount an independent campaign after Millwood beat Rep. Bob Walker in the primary by 16 votes.

Of course, one wonders what would have happened if Walker had hired a firm beside Starboard Communications to run his race. Starboard already was working for several South Carolinians for Responsible Government and Howard Rich-backed candidates, so couldn’t use that connection to sink Millwood. The North Carolina sportswriter was the only one of the Sandlapper Group’s clients to win in the primary season. Sandlapper is run by SCRG board member Chad Connelly and Conservatives in Action spokesman Taft Matney.

Of course, Starboard employee and former S.C. Club for Growth executive director Josh Gross was doing Millwood’s mail (among others), so it would have behooved Walker to hire another firm.

Enter Brannon, who has been canvassing the district in the past few days to stop another subsidiary of Rich, Inc. from entering the State House.

Funding the public education system and fighting for additional property tax relief – relief that would be offset by a higher sales tax – would be two of Brannon’s top priorities in Columbia.

“The residents of House District 38 need a strong, vocal representative that isn’t pulled by out-of-state money or some other power,” Brannon said.

Of course, Millwood tried to spin how he’s a bought commodity, but it rings untrue:

“I’m not a good-ole-boy. I’m not a walking special interest. People see that. They see the freshness of what I represent,” Millwood said. “If someone is a true conservative, then cut that check – I’ll take it. That money I got from New York, they have no interest in South Carolina.

Tell us some more bullshit, Joey – we haven’t heard enough yet. According to his reports, Millwood raised 75 percent of his cash through late May from Rich and his people. Today, though, is the last day of the five-day grace period for the July 10 report, which should show the extent that he’s in Rich’s pocket. And, if he doesn’t send in his report today he’ll be (gasp!) in violation of the law. (See update below.)

If there’s one thing that’s going Brannon’s way, it’s that he’s pissed off Spartanburg County’s resident crazy Rick Beltram.

Spartanburg County GOP Chairman Rick Beltram last week dismissed petition candidates trying to claim the mantle of a second Republican on November’s ballot. On Sunday, Beltram said, petition candidates set a bad precedent for people who have a problem with the nominating process.

“They need to understand that just because someone runs as an independent/petition candidate doesn’t mean they’re entitled to anything from the Republican Party,” Beltram said. “In fact, it becomes something of an affront to our nominee.”

Beltram said he’s tried to recruit Brannon to run for a seat on Spartanburg County Council in the past, and that Brannon – by attempting to run as a petition candidate – could end up damaging his chances to get into the political game “the regular way” in the future.

Oh, that’s a shame, Ricky. Perhaps the best analysis of Beltram and his ways was penned by Rep. Doug Smith.

Most know Beltram as a self-absorbed media hound who has never met a news release he wouldn’t release. It is a pity hardworking Republicans have had to work in the shadow of someone who either doesn’t understand the damage he does to our party, or doesn’t care, or both.

A portrait of Ronald Reagan hangs in the S.C. House Chamber because of a resolution that I prepared and sponsored. I am normally a believer in Reagan’s commandment not to speak ill of a fellow Republican, but when it comes to an extreme case like our local Republican chairman, someone finally has to speak the truth.

What’s good is that the race to win District 38 ain’t over yet, and there’s someone that’s worth a damn working hard to win it.

UPDATE: Millwood’s July 10 report is in as of around noon today, July 15. No surprises here:

05/12/2008, 123 LaSalle Associates, 73 Spring St, NYC $1,000
05/14/2008, Bradford Management, 73 Spring St, NYC $1,000
05/16/2008, Alan Pomerantz, 767 5th Ave, NYC $1,000
05/24/2008, Paul Jost, 2640 Jockeys Neck Trail, Williamsburg, VA $1,000
05/24/2008, The Stonecreek Group, 2443 Fair Oaks Blvd, Sacramento, CA $1,000
05/24/2008, Paul Farago, PO Box 8907, Asheville, NC $1,000
05/24/2008, Joseph Stillwell, 26 Broadway, 23rd Floor, NYC $1,000
05/24/2008, Yvonne Rich, 2111 West Rd 1, Mtn Home, AR $1,000
05/24/2008, 4220 Broadway LLC , 73 Spring St, Rm 408, NYC $1,000
05/24/2008, 188 Claremont LLC, 73 Spring St Room 408, NYC $1,000
05/24/2008, 405 49 Associates, 73 Spring St Room 408, NYC $1,000
05/24/2008, 332 E 11 LLC, 73 Spring St, Room 408, NYC $1,000
05/24/2008, 4220 Broadway Inc, 73 Spring St Room 408, NYC $1,000
05/24/2008, 470 W 166 LLC, 73 Spring St Room 408, NYC $1,000
05/24/2008, Bayrich LLC, 73 Spring St, Ste 408, NYC $1,000
05/24/2008, 123 LaSalle Inc, 73 Spring St Rm 408, NYC $1,000
05/24/2008, 51 First Ave LLC, 73 Spring St, Rm 408, NYC $1,000
05/24/2008, Dayrich LLC, 73 Spring St Room 408, NYC $1,000
05/24/2008, Newrich LLC, 73 Spring St Rm 507, NYC $1,000
05/24/2008, Rich and Rich Associates, 73 Spring St Ste 507, NYC $1,000
05/24/2008, Rich Acquisitions LLC, 73 Spring St Ste 507, NYC $1,000
05/24/2008, Spooner LLC, 73 Spring St Room 408, NYC $1,000
05/24/2008, Silver and Silver, 73 Spring St Rm 408, NYC $1,000
05/24/2008, Secure Data LLC, 73 Spring St Ste 507, NYC $1,000
05/24/2008, Spring Incorporated, 73 Spring St Suite 507, NYC $1,000
05/24/2008, Rich and Rich LLC, 73 Spring St Suite 507, NYC $1,000
05/30/2008, Streetrich LLC, 73 Spring St, Ste 408, NYC $1,000
05/30/2008, Stilrich LLC, 73 Spring St, NYC $1,000
05/30/2008, West 14 & 18 LLC, 73 Spring St RM 408, NYC $1,000
05/30/2008, SpringRich, 73 Spring St Rm 507, NYC $1,000
05/30/2008, John Kirtley, 339 S Plant Ave, Tampa, FL $1,000
05/30/2008, Douglas Levine, 2760 N. Bay Rd, Miami Beach, FL $1,000

That’s $35,000 from corporations and people directly affiliated with Rich, when you include the three large from the pre-election report. Rich gave Millwood over half his total support.

Or so it would seem. Hey, kids, we forgot to add in the S.C. Club for Growth/Reform SC/Sanford Lowcountry Crony Association numbers:

06/08/2008, Chad Walldorf, 3112 Marshall Blvd, Sullivan’s Island $1,000
06/09/2008, Eighty-Six LLC, 710 Johnnie Dodds Blvd, Mt Pleasant $1,000
06/09/2008, Ben Navarro, PO Box 19019, Atlanta $1,000
06/09/2008, Kelly Navarro, PO Box 19019, Atlanta $1,000
06/09/2008, Bill Hewitt, 34 Prioleau Street, Charleston $1,000
06/09/2008, Laura Hewitt, 34 Prioleau Street, Charleston $1,000
06/09/2008, Mary Barter, 40 Shoolbred Ct, Johns Island $1,000
06/09/2008, SC CFG PAC, PO Box 11909, Columbia $1,000
06/09/2008, Bill Lowndes, PO Box 5042, Spartanburg $1,000
06/09/2008, Henrietta Lowndes, PO Box 5042, Spartanburg $1,000
06/13/2008, William Baker, 188 Ballybunion Dr, Kiawah Island $1,000
06/13/2008, Margaret Averyt, PO Box 1365, Ste SC 443, Columbia $1,000
06/13/2008, Emily Swanson, 615 Pitt St, Mt Pleasant $1,000
06/13/2008, Ruth Baker, 188 Ballybunion Dr, Kiawah Island $1,000
06/13/2008, Gayle Averyt, PO Box 1365 Ste SC 443, Columbia $1,000
06/18/2008, Steve Swanson, 615 Pitt St, Mt Pleasant $1,000

That’s about, oh, $16,000. So, between the people S.C. Club for Growth could get to pony up the cash (Rich is head of Club for Growth State Action, by the by) and the money flowing from Rich’s coffers, that’s $51,000. And what was the total Millwood raised in the campaign? $55,927.18.

Don’t bother getting a calculator, because I’ve done it for you – Rich and his handful of South Carolina allies funded 91 percent of Millwood’s operation. And, yet he says he’s “not a walking special interest?” He owes his entire political life on Rich and his people, and don’t think they’ll forget it.

Brannon pushing petition deadline to join House District 38 race [The Herald-Journal]
Focus should be on local Republican Party, not its self-absorbed chairman [The Herald-Journal]


Stalemate: the Republican primary battle heads into runoffs
Originally uploaded by johnvierdsen

This election cycle has seen the stepped-up involvement of S.C. Club for Growth and South Carolinians for Responsible Government, as Gov. Mark Sanford and his allies have tried to oust members of their own party yet again.

The plan to do so, written by former Sanford spokesman Will Folks for Club for Growth last year, stated that it would take 15-20 new legislators to get the governor’s agenda through the General Assembly. Right now, that doesn’t look like it will happen.

The Club’s record going into Tuesday’s runoffs, as applied to endorsements of potential new legislators, looks like this:

Tim Scott (Win)
Tom Davis (Win)
Deborah Long (Win)
Joey Millwood (Win)
Mike Rose (Win)
Tommy Stringer (Win)
Wendy Nanney (Win)
Bill Wylie (Win)

Stu Rodman (Loss)
Joe Bustos (Loss)
Roger Nutt (Loss)
Trey Whitehurst (Loss)
Kyle Boyd (Loss)
Ed Rumsey (Loss)
Jim Whitehead (Loss)

Katrina Shealy (Runoff)
Lee Bright (Runoff)

For those of you scoring at home, that’s a record of 8-7-2 – not exactly what could be considered a mandate. If Shealy and Bright both lose, then the Club would be sub-.500 for the cycle, which is not, conceivably, what the people with the deep pockets were looking at when going forward in this effort.

The only way possible for the effort to be a success is if Shealy can knock off Sen. Jake Knotts and other legislators start getting scared. There really isn’t any reason they should be, though.

Consider this – the Sandlapper Group, run by SCRG’s Chad Connelly and Conservatives in Action’s Taft Matney, managed only a 1-5 record in their contested races (the 19-vote win by Millwood). SCRG was heavily involved in these races, but to no avail.

The conclusion? If you throw enough spitballs against the wall, some of them are going to stick. But it doesn’t appear that the best laid plans worked out.

Alabama Football

Dave Martin/AP

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