HCGOP: A Microcosm of the Trump Administration
By Bob Gatty
The Horry County Republican Party (HCGOP) is embroiled in a bitter battle over leadership and financial accountability that’s devolved into accusations of improprieties and nasty name calling reminiscent of the everyday actions of President Trump and his supporters, including those in Congress.
It all boiled over January 8 at an HCGOP meeting at Horry Georgetown Technical College at which co-chairman Ed Carey and co-chairwoman Dreama Perdue got into a shouting match over “unaccounted spending”, the latest involving the party’s Christmas Party December 12 at RIOZ Restaurant in North Myrtle Beach. In fact, they even fought over the planning for that festive event.
If you want to hear the gory details of the name calling, accusations, yelling and screaming by these so-called political leaders and their supporters at the meeting, you can do so below. But be warned, it’s not pretty, so listen at your own discretion. (While it’s a video, the person doing the recording apparently did so in secret because the video portion is mostly a shot of the ceiling. Or else they were a really lousy videographer.):
According to www.fitsnews.com, Perdue and Carey have been battling back-and-forth over (you guessed it) money…specifically control of the county party’s purse strings. According to one executive committee member, Perdue and her supporters have “circumvented all by-law restrictions for ‘unaccounted spending’, which has caused (the party) to operate (at) a loss.”
Imagine that! Republicans running at a deficit!
Back in September, Carey issued a memorandum to the HCGOP Executive Committee members in which he outlined a lengthy set of grievances involving leadership and accountability, including the party’s apparently negligent actions that Carey says could possibly put its officers at risk of financial liability.
Wrote Carey then:
So, we, the HCGOP are at a crossroad. We are at a milestone in the history of the HCGOP. Do we continue to operate as we have over the past numerous years, or do we begin to run and operate the HCGOP as a legally accountable professionally run nonprofit organization that promotes the conservative republican values that brought us here in the first place? Are you ready to make the changes needed to right this ship? Or, are you wanting to continue to put yourself at liability risk as an officer of a nonprofit organization that does not and has not provided basic Officer and Director liability insurance, an organization that does not keep proper basic acceptable financial records which could put you at risk of financial liability, an organization that cannot produce current membership records, an organization that has leaders making unchecked and unilateral decisions outside of the governing bylaws of the organization?
All of this is especially remarkable considering that the Republican Party has always stood for civility (almost to the point of being boring), fiscal responsibility (so tight they squeaked), and steadfast sticklers for the rules.
Of course, all of that is long gone under Donald Trump, with his name calling, his budget busting tax cuts and outlandish spending, his bellicose bravado, and his absolute disdain for rules – i.e., the U.S. Constitution. So apparently, the HCGOP feels free to follow suit, in its own small-town way.
Carey’s Issues of Concern
Here are the “Issues of Concern” outlined by Carey on September 16 (word for word and unedited):
1. Sharing Duties/Information with Co-Chair Carey.
HCGOP Co-Chairman Perdue has consistently failed to embrace her co-chair as of equal responsibility and has failed to work with her co-chair to share information and communications. She has held meetings with selected HCGOP officers and made unilateral decisions without the knowledge and/or participation of the co-chair. The unprecedented nature of this SCGOP-approved co-chair system requires that Ms. Perdue understand her co-chair’s equal status and that they must work together to define the nature and responsibilities of the HCGOP’s co-chairs.
2. Refusal to Respond to Co-Chair & Member Requests.
HCGOP Co-Chairman Perdue has steadfastly refused to respond to repeated formal and informal requests for what are universally considered the most basic, fundamental materials necessary and required by law and tradition to operate the HCGOP or any legitimate organization.
3. Refusal to Provide Thorough Financial Records to Treasurer.
HCGOP Co-Chairman Perdue resisted turning over the HCGOP’s books and other financial information to the newly appointed Party Treasurer, Eric Santorelli. On May 24, 2019, she finally presented the HCGOP bank checkbook to Mr. Santorelli – but those checking account records only went back to December, 2018. Critically, there was no back-up documentation for tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of checks written and deposits made: No Invoices, No Receipts; No Books. It appears our Party, throughout Ms. Perdue’s tenure, kept little or no financial records of any kind. Were it not that the bank maintains copies of checks written, Mr. Santorelli would have no idea what monies were expended on what products and/or services.
4. Issuance of Check & Cash for Services without Authorization.
The checkbook present to Mr. Santorelli on May 24th included a carbon of check #2257 made payable that very day to “Cash” in the amount of $1,500.00. No invoice accompanied the check, which had been cashed by Co-Chairman Perdue, but a note in the memo portion denoted “Website Coding.” No records exist of any authorization approvals for a check of $1,500 (to cash or to any individual) by fellow HCGOP officers, the Ways & Means Committee, or the Executive Committee.
Shockingly, only one signature appears on that check … that of Co-Chairman Perdue. Her unilateral decision to write a check to cash and to spend $1,500 on “Website Coding” without the express approval of other officers and/or the Ways & Means Committee and/or the Executive Committee is in direct violation of the Party Bylaws. To add injury to insult, the Executive Committee, at its meeting in March, had voted by an overwhelming majority to authorize payment of a check for 1/3 that amount for website and hosting services.
5. Failure to Follow HCGOP Bylaws and Standard Business Practices.
Upon further examination of 160 checks dating back to 11/3/15 (presented to Mr. Santorelli by Ms. Perdue) – as well other checks that Mr. Santorelli acquired from the bank directly, it became painfully evident that Co-Chairman Ms. Perdue has not only consistently failed to follow financial procedures established in the HCGOP Bylaws, but has also consistently failed to follow standard acceptable business procedure for expenditures and record-keeping.
- Out of a total of 160 checks reviewed written by Ms. Perdue over the last (45+) months, a total of only eleven (11) checks contain the two signatures required in the Bylaws for check of ANY amount. Of those 160 checks, 76 checks were written by Ms. Perdue in amounts in excess of $250; including 13 written in amounts in excess of $1,000. Of the 13 in excess of $1,000, only 4 had the required 2 signatures. It is unknown whether the checks over $1,000 were approved by the Ways and Means committee.
- A total of 6 checks were made payable to “cash” for “change” and/or a variety of sometimes unspecified purposes, for which no corresponding deposit has been identified as received.
- A total of 39 transactions (28 checks plus 11 automatic debit) totaling $13,314.87 were made payable to “Cardmember Services” for credit card payments, yet the HCGOP has no credit card issued in its name. As of this writing, there are no corresponding receipts identifying the nature and purpose of these credit card charges – to say nothing of an explanation as to whose name appears on the credit card in question.
- Despite being said that Dreama Perdue possesses a HCGOP cell phone, there are no records of funds being dispersed directly for any phone services. It is thought that the payments to the “Cardmember services “credit card include phone service charges, among other unknown expenses. It has been stated that Dreama has a HCGOP phone number – (843) 998-1271. This phone number is NOT registered to the Horry County Republican Party and is, according to Ms. Perdue herself, her personal cell phone.
6. HCGOP Insurance Policy.
Ms. Perdue has repeatedly failed to respond to requests by her co-chair to provide him with a copy of the HCGOP Insurance Policy (for which bank records show we are spending in excess of $1,200 annually). After almost 3 months of refusals and concerns about the nature and scope of the coverage we are receiving, Mr. Carey contacted the appropriate insurance company shown on the checking account and was able to obtain a copy of the policy. Critically, it appears that the policy does NOT include ANY insurance for Directors and Officers – meaning that every officer and every EC may be liable for damages in a lawsuit. In addition, the liability policy denotes coverage at 2 addresses (one owned by Winyah Road LLC, the other the property of past HCGOP chairman Robert Rabon). This situation is untenable and completely indefensible.
7.Website & Social Media.
Ms. Perdue has repeatedly failed to direct those responsible for building and/or maintaining the official HCGOP website and/or Social Media pages to prohibit the use of these important Party communications vehicles for individual promotion, including that of specific candidates and/or political organizations. In addition to failing to share “administrative” tasks with her duly-elected co-chair, she has taken it upon herself to determine what organizations qualify to be listed as “approved” by the HCGOP – even though there IS NO SUCH approval procedure.
8. Membership Database.
Ms. Perdue has repeatedly failed to provide copies of the HCGOP membership database, including records of who has paid dues and when; contact information for both phone, snail mail and Email and other information absolutely vital to the execution of her duties as co-chair of the Party – and critical to the successful execution of the duties and responsibilities of the various Standing Committees. Accurate membership data is the lifeblood of any membership organization, especially one involved in politics and elections.
9. Public contact/responsiveness.
Numerous test calls to (843) 998-1271 have been answered simply “Hello” rather than a formal greeting such as “Thank you for calling the Horry County Republican Party.” Still another phone number appears on some Facebook Pages (843-488-4445) … a number that has been disconnected for several years. Standing Committee chairs and members, along with Ms. Perdue’s co-chair, insist that prompt and accurate response to public or member inquiries by ANY communications means is absolutely vital to the successful operation, maintenance and growth of the HCGOP.
Meanwhile at the HCDP
While all of this turmoil is taking place within the HCGOP, the Horry County Democratic Party is fiscally responsible, following the rules, developing aggressive plans to engage and support qualified candidates and help defeat Donald Trump in 2020 (assuming he is still president).
Join us as we all Take a Stand for Democracy. And don’t forget to register and vote in the Democratic Presidential Primary February 29. Registration deadline for that election is January 30.
Editor’s Note: See our video at: https://youtu.be/qk6UyMxLSKk