Florence County SC Sheriff’s Race: The Plot Thickens

Drama-filled local law enforcement battle adds yet another chapter to the ongoing intrigue …

A Republican candidate for sheriff of Florence county, South Carolina referred to his GOP rival as a “self obsessed tyrant” on Tuesday evening – and added “may heaven help the people of this county” in the event the candidate wins election next month.

This unusually harsh invective came courtesy of former S.C. Highway Patrol (SCHP) trooper T.J. Joye – and was directed toward Florence county chief deputy Glen Kirby.

These two veteran law enforcement officers are locked in an increasingly acrimonious battle as they vie to become the next top cop in this county of nearly 140,000 people – which is located in the Pee Dee region of the state between the capital city of Columbia, S.C. and the Grand Strand.

According to Joye, Kirby is responsible for leaking text messages that Joye sent to a 23-year-old female nurse who has been volunteering on his campaign.

These messages were the focus of a story on this news outlet on Monday – one that appears to have prompted Joye’s criticism of Kirby.

“Let me begin by telling you how much I deplore this reprehensible action taken by my opponent to attack me politically by tarnishing the reputation of a fine young lady,” Joye said in a Facebook post on Tuesday evening. “This man wears a badge and purports to represent the fine men and women serving in the Florence Sheriff’s Office? Well, you and I know that he doesn’t.”

As we reported on Monday, Joye forwarded the young woman in question multiple YouTube links to romantically themed songs earlier this year via iMessage.

Among the songs? “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran, “I Can’t Stop Loving You” by Ray Charles, “She’s A Bad Mama Jama” by Carl Carlton, “Easy” by Commodores, “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, “Shame” by Evelyn “Champagne” King and “Casanova” by LeVert.

Screencaps of these messages were provided to us last month on condition of anonymity. According to our sources, they had been circulating around Florence county for some time prior to being provided to us.

This news outlet verified the authenticity of the messages – but declined to publish them. We also declined to identify the woman who received them. Furthermore, we declined to portray them as anything inappropriate. We noted that we believed them to be “odd,” but we also pointed out the lack of context associated with the messages.

Supporters of Joye told us he frequently sends music selections to male and female students at Carolina Academy – where he serves as a football coach and head of security.

“It was never any secret or anything he was trying to hide because his intentions were completely innocent,” our source said.

(Click to view)

(Via: T.J. Joye for Sheriff)

Accompanying Joye’s Facebook criticism of Kirby was a photo of him standing in the middle of a yard outside of a home with a family that resides in Florence county.

“The Gaskins Family supports TJ JOYE to be the next Sheriff of Florence County more than ever before,” Joye wrote in the post.

Joye’s post prompted a flood of responses – most of them from his supporters expressing their admiration for his handling of the situation. Others asked him to provide them with more information about what prompted the social media post.

“I for one would like to hear the story,” one resident wrote. “What happened?”

That is still an open question … but Joye clearly believes Kirby has accused him of something illicit related to these messages. And he further believes the chief deputy (or his supporters) used our news outlet to do his dirty work.

While we have no dog in this fight – and again, did not take a position on this drama – some in Florence were unhappy with our handling of the situation.

“The hypocrisy is truly unfathomable,” one of our readers there wrote. “I have had major respect for this organization over the years because I have relied on the truth being brought to light – not rumors being conjured up for internet views. You should be seeking to add truth to a story – instead, you chose to add ‘juice’ to a falsehood.”

(Click to view)

(Via: T.J. Joye for Sheriff)

“Perception is everything, and trying to leverage this story like Florence county’s version of a Hollywood sex scandal is pretty pathetic,” the reader continued. “It is why people like me look to FITSNews instead of watching television news, and you really let me down there.”

We stand by our story. This news outlet could have very easily chosen to sensationalize this particular situation – but we didn’t. We stuck to the facts as we knew them and editorialized on those facts as objectively as possible – just as we have done (and will continue to do) in breaking news in Florence county and all across the state.

Of course, as our founding editor Will Folks often says to his critics “you are one click away from never having to read anything I write ever again.”

Anyway, in addition to the two Republicans two Democratic candidates – Florence deputy Darrin Yarborough and veteran law enforcement officer Jody Lynch – have submitted paperwork with the S.C. Election Commission ( Lynch has not filed any paperwork with the S.C. State Ethics Commission (SCSEC), however.

There is no incumbent in this race. Former sheriff Kenney Boone – a Republican who had held this office since 2004 – resigned in January after pleading guilty to charges of embezzlement and misconduct in office. Boone had been suspended from office since his initial indictment on these charges back in April of 2019. Prior to being indicted, Boone was seeking a fifth term as sheriff.

Most of the Boone saga broke exclusively on this news outlet.

Primary elections for this office will be held on June 9, 2020. The winners of that round of voting will square off in the general election on November 3, 2020.




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