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Why Myrtle Beach Lost The 2016 “First In The South” Debate




|| By FITSNEWS || This week CBS News announced that Greenville, S.C. would play host to a “Republican” presidential debate on February 13, 2016.

You know … for those candidates who are still in the race by then (ahem, Rick Perry).

Multiple Palmetto State cities – including Columbia and Myrtle Beach – offered to host this event. In fact CBS News executives recently toured each city’s potential debate sites, promising a fair shot for each.

Why, then, did CBS News choose Greenville? Sources familiar with the decision tell FITS the notorious “Myrtle Beach Mafia” cost the city its bid – despite aggressive lobbying efforts by the “mafia’s” top money men, the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.

Wait … what’s the “Myrtle Beach Mafia?” Click here to refresh your memory.

Myrtle Beach, S.C. mayor John Rhodes is at the center of the controversy.  In late 2011, the South Carolina “Republican” Party was forced to pay a Rhodes-affiliated group called “Grand Strand Juniors Volleyball” $80,000 because the group had booked the Myrtle Beach Convention Center for a tournament on January 16, 2012 – the date of a Fox News’ presidential debate.

According to S.C. Ethics Commission records, the $80,000 was given to the SCGOP by Chamber-affiliated groups – sort of a “pass-through” for Rhodes. Of note: Rhodes is also the executive director of the Myrtle Beach “Beach Ball” Classic, an annual basketball tournament held at the Convention Center – which raises questions about his prior knowledge of scheduling at the site.

What followed was bizarre, even by South Carolina standards.  On the day of the debate, Rhodes called in tow trucks in an attempt to have Fox News’ production and satellite trucks removed from the debate site after he disagreed with Fox News changing Myrtle Beach’s logos on the “spin room” walls.  Such logo placement is important, given the free advertising to TV audiences.

According to witnesses, Rhodes heatedly argued with the SCGOP’s then-Executive Director (now chairman) Matt Moore over the party’s contractual commitments, calling Moore “son” and demanding an $80,000 reduction on the party’s payout.

That’s a curious amount, right?

Rhodes eventually relented after Moore, according to witnesses who spoke with FITS on condition of anonymity, threatened to never bring a debate to Myrtle Beach again and publicly embarrass the mayor.

The drama apparently left a bitter taste in the mouth of Fox News executives, who apparently repeated the story to media friends in Washington, D.C. – including those at CBS.

Regardless of the behind-the-scenes drama, if you ask us, Myrtle Beach is getting exactly what it deserves.  For too long, the city’s crony capitalists have padded their pockets off of the people they are supposed to be serving.

Now it appears that “self-serving” default setting has returned to bite them in the ass …