… USING LOTS OF EXCLAMATION MARKS
To be clear: We don’t live in Berkeley County. We did not – and do not – have a dog in the fight. We’ve written precisely two stories: One in which a specific allegation was made by one of the candidates in the race, and a second story in which the initial allegation came under fire.
The nickel tour of this S.C. Lowcountry drama? According to former candidate Jerry Merrithew, he was offered a bribe by the first-place finisher in the April primary for this office. That candidate – Brian Adams – denied the allegation, but the damage was done.
Adams lost to second-place finisher Duane Lewis in the “Republican” runoff election earlier this year.
Since then, Lewis has been exposed as having dubious academic credentials – prompting Adams to withdraw his support for his former rival as he faces Democrat Anthony Smalls on June 9.
“My campaign was built on honesty and integrity, which is what the voters of Berkeley County expect of their next Sheriff,” Adams said in a statement. “Discovery of potential misrepresentation of his college degree and law enforcement service time on his filing affidavit has been revealed to me in the last few days. This has cast doubt on the legitimacy of Duane Lewis as a candidate for Berkeley County Sheriff that is why I am withdrawing my support.”
Supporters of Adams also claim Merrithew lied about the bribery allegation – and have offered us a counter-narrative.
“Merrithew and Brian met when Merrithew was considering the possibility of dropping out of the race due to financial difficulties,” one source told us. “He wanted Brian to promise him a position if he did, and Brian refused.”
Of course the fact that we published both sides of the story doesn’t seem to have satisfied some of the locals.
“As a resident of Berkeley County, just wanted to express my extreme disappointment at publishing the accusations against Brian Adams prior to the local runoff election,” the resident wrote. “Now the damage is done, and follow up reporting is showing that it’s not true, and that you should have never published such a story. I know you are a state level tabloid, but shame on you for meddling in this election. Maybe in four years we can elect a qualified candidate without interference from FITS news.”
Our founding editor’s response?
“The candidate in question went ON THE RECORD with a specific allegation,” Will Folks wrote. “In fact our website followed up to confirm that the candidate in question was indeed alleging what he said in his email to us – and that his allegation was to be considered on the record. HE CONFIRMED. We then offered the individual he accused the opportunity to respond to the allegation. Please tell me – in any of this – where my website was doing anything other than its job.”
In fact FITS followed up with Merrithew this week and asked if he was standing by the allegations he made during the GOP runoff election.
For those of you keeping score at home, that’s six exclamation marks.