ATLANTIC BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — News13 is working to learn more about the eligibility of an Atlantic Beach Town Council candidate following multiple convictions and prison time in Virginia.
According to court documents obtained by News13, Shaun Swinson was convicted in 2007 for drug conspiracy and money laundering in Richmond, Virginia. He is now running for a seat on the Atlantic Beach Town Council.
News13 reached out to several Atlantic Beach officials on Wednesday about his eligibility, but have not gotten answers.
The first person contacted was Joe Montgomery, the town election commission chairman, who is involved in the process of elections and candidates in Atlantic Beach.
Montgomery told News13 he was aware of Swinson’s conviction in Virginia, but that he doesn’t have the authority to decide who is eligible and referred News13 to town council.
News13 then contacted Ben Quattlebaum, Atlantic Beach’s town manager, with the same questions — including if council plans to take any action.
Quattlebaum initially said the questions should be directed to the candidates themselves, before then referring News13 to the Horry County Registration and Election director.
The director then referred News13 back to Montgomery and Quattlebaum, saying the county is not in charge of the town’s election. News13 then reached out to Quattlebaum again, who said he had nothing to do with elections, cannot provide a comment and to get in contact with Montgomery.
Montgomery emphasized again that the matter is not under the commissions jurisdiction and town council is supposed to handle it. He said he’s known about Swinson’s time in prison for about a month.
Montgomery added that he isn’t sure if council is aware or if they will take any action before election day on Nov. 7.
News13 began reaching out to Swinson for comment twice, beginning on Monday. He agreed to an interview on two separate occasions, but canceled both. He did confirm he was convicted of drug conspiracy and money laundering and that he served time in prison.
He also confirmed he’s being sued for more than $11,000 owed in rent in Atlantic Beach.
Swinson is being sued after allegedly not paying more than $11,000 in separate rental agreements he had in Horry County.
Swinson entered an agreement to rent a house at 306 29th Avenue South in Atlantic Beach on Oct. 5, 2020, according to the lawsuit, which was filed this August. Under the rental agreement, he was supposed to pay $950 per month until August 2022.
Starting in August 2022, the rent was raised to $1,200 per month for a new rental term that would expire on Aug. 31, 2023. Swinson allegedly stopped paying rent in June 2023, all while remaining in the house without paying rent in both July and August.
Swinson currently owes $2,520 for July and August’s rent, the lawsuit said. That number includes the $60 he owes in late fees for each month.
In a separate rental agreement, Swinson signed a lease with the same person to rent a building at 3110 Highway 17 South in Atlantic Beach for a barbershop on Aug. 1, 2021, according to the lawsuit.
Under that rental agreement, Swinson agreed to pay $14,400 annually for the term of August 2021 through July 2022. The lease was renewed in July 2022, with Swinson agreeing to pay $1,500 in rent per month.
The lawsuit alleges that Swinson only paid $1,000 of the $1,500 in rent in March, and then stopped paying rent from April until August altogether. Including late fees, he owes about $8,900 for back rent for the barbershop lease, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit says Swinson has “absolutely no legal excuse for not paying the rent” on both the house and the barbershop. The lawsuit asks the court for a judgement of no less than $11,420.
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Adrianna Lawrence is a multimedia journalist at News13. Adrianna is originally from Virginia Beach, Virginia, and joined the News13 team in June 2023 after graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University in May 2023. Keep up with Adrianna on Instagram, Facebook, and X, formerly Twitter. You can also read more of her work, here.
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Caleb is a digital producer at News13. Caleb joined the team in January 2023 after graduating from Liberty University. He is from Northern Virginia. Follow Caleb on X, formerly Twitter, and read more of his work here.