SC

‘Gun Grant’ Scandal Brewing In North Charleston

“The whole project was flawed from the beginning …”

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There’s a sweeping report in this morning’s editions of The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier by reporter Jocelyn Grzeszczak detailing the apparent failure of a campaign to reduce gun violence in North Charleston.

Grzeszczak’s report also delved into the failure of city politicians to keep tabs on $1.3 million in taxpayer money pumped into a network of unvetted, unmonitored nonprofits tasked with implementing the campaign.

“Officials’ failure to closely monitor the program bred disorganization from the start, Grzeszczak noted in her report, adding that North Charleston leaders failed to “diligently vet the groups or provide financial training before handing each a $100,000 check.”

According to sources close to the brewing scandal, the truth is far worse than that …

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Allegations of kickbacks tied to these grants are running rampant through the corridors of power in North Charleston, prompting new mayor (and former North Charleston police chief) Reggie Burgess to launch what amounts to an internal investigation of this funding stream.

“I think it’s going to blow up,” a source familiar with the inquiry told us. “The whole project was flawed from the beginning. A terrible idea.”

North Charleston had no one on staff who was qualified to ensure the programs would be successful in lowering gun violence.

“The project was well intended but it had no chance of succeeding without the expertise needed to oversee the money,” the source added. “It was set up for failure.”

Last month, Burgess’ special assistant – Dave Cheatle – sent a letter to grant recipients inviting them to participate in a “presentation and review” of their “dedicated efforts in reducing gun violence within our community.”

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“The whole project was flawed from the beginning …”

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According to the letter (.pdf), the city wants all grant recipients “to present an overview of their initiatives, achievements and utilization” of the money they received from taxpayers in December 2022.

A follow-up letter from Burgess announced his intention to appoint two city council members to serve on a new committee tasked with “assessing the outcomes of our efforts against gun violence.”

Grant recipients must comply with the city’s audit request. Upon receiving their taxpayer largess, each signed a form acknowledging the city’s right to “audit expenditures of grant funds” and to “audit any records necessary to establish the accuracy of information.”

One key to reducing gun violence in North Charleston? Keeping violent criminals off of the street – something that should be much easier to do following the upcoming retirement of S.C. circuit court judge Bentley Price, the poster judge for excessive leniency in the Palmetto State. State lawmakers approving mandatory minimum sentences for repeat violent offenders in unlawful possession of firearms would also help.

As this audit advances, count on this media outlet to keep tabs on any issues it uncovers. In the meantime, props to Grzeszczak for her work on this story.

North Charleston taxpayers deserve better than this …

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THE LETTERS …

(City of North Charleston)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Travis Bell Photography)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven (soon to be eight) children.

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1 comment

I Wonder February 14, 2024 at 10:07 am

I wonder how much similar misappropriation of taxpayer funds is happening in Columbia and Richland County under the same bogus guise of preventing gun violence.

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