SURFSIDE BEACH — Republican State House candidate Rod Smith Monday called on Rep. Nelson Hardwick to return campaign contributions from a PAC representing trucking interests that violate election contribution limits set by state law and $14,000 in 2010 contributions tied to ongoing FBI and IRS investigations as to the source.
“Nelson Hardwick cannot be above the law and take illegal campaign contributions from a special interest group,” Smith said. “I call on Rep. Hardwick to obey the law and return all PAC monies that violate contribution limits as soon as possible.”
“I also call on Rep. Hardwick to do the right thing and return the money he took for his 2010 campaign from proven sham corporations that are now under federal investigation,” Smith added. “It’s just not credible, based on what is now known, to think these contributions were anything but an attempt to skirt campaign finance law by hiding the identity of the actual contributors. To do anything less than return the money is to condone this kind of activity.”
According to campaign finance reports filed by Hardwick on the state Ethics Commission website for the June Republican primary election, he accepted a total of $1,500 in financial contributions last year from a group called the “Trucking Industry PAC” based in Columbia.
The contribution limit for individuals, businesses, and PACs is $1,000 per election.
According to media reports, the source of $239,500 in 2010 campaign contributions to Myrtle Beach area politicians, including $14,000 to Hardwick, is under criminal investigation by the FBI and IRS.
Critics contend the contributions, which came from 14 mostly defunct or nonexistent corporations in the form of $1,000 cashier’s checks, were a reward for politicians who supported a one percent sales tax increase in Myrtle Beach that benefitted the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce’s marketing effort.
According to the Sun News, Rep. Tracy Edge refused to accept the corporate contributions “because no one would tell him the source of the funds.”
The Sun News reported: “The lack of corporate bank or tax records to document the contributions could be a problem for the politicians who accepted the donations, according to Cathy Hazelwood, general counsel for the S.C. Ethics Commission. Those politicians filed reports with the commission stating that the donations came from the corporations. If the donations actually came from another source, they could represent excessive contributions that would violate state law. In that case, the politicians would have to give back the money, Hazelwood said.”
Smith is a Surfside Beach Town Councilman and a member of the Horry County Republican Party Executive Committee.
He is challenging Hardwick in the June 12th primary for the District 106 seat.
His campaign website is voterodsmith.com
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