Former Myrtle Beach Chamber Chair fined for excessive contributions to political candidates

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According to the SC Ethics Commission, Former Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce Chair Robert Guyton inadvertently violated the Ethics Reform Act by providing excessive contributions to South Carolina political candidates. Guyton must pay a total of $33,000 in fines, the order signed Tuesday states.

The initial complaint against Guyton was filed January 22, 2010. The consent order from the state ethics commission says in 2009, Guyton asked his bookkeeper to order more than 100 cashier’s checks derived from 14 different LLCs. One of Guyton’s employees delivered those checks to the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce office where former Myrtle Beach chamber Chairman Brant Branham distributed the money to the candidates.

In all, 148 checks were issued for a grand total of $183,000. The document also clarifies that the money was personally funded by Guyton as most of the LLCs had little or no money on their own. 

Below is a breakdown of where that money was sent:

-14 checks were issued for $3,500 each for Gresham Barrett

-14 checks were issued for $1,000 each for Myrtle Beach Mayoral candidate John Rhodes

-14 checks were issued for $1,000 each to City council candidate William Gray

-14 checks were issued for $1,000 each to City Council Charles Martino

-14 checks were issued for $1,000 each to City council Randal Wallace

-14 checks were issued for $1,000 each to State Senate candidate Raymond Cleary

-8 checks were issued for $1,000 each to SC House Candidate Liston Barfield

-14 checks were issued for $1,000 each to State House candidate Thad Viers

-14 checks were issued for $1,000 each to State House candidate Nelson Hardwick

-14 checks were issued for $1,000 each to state house candidate George Hearn

-14 checks were issued for $1,000 each to State House candidate Alan Clemmons

The State Ethics Commission says because he previously provided these candidates the maximum personal campaign contributions allowed, “the contributions were excessive as a matter of law.” Existing statutes note that the limit for contributions is $3,500 for state candidates and $1,000 for local candidates. 

Guyton was issued a public reprimand from the SC Ethics Commission and has been ordered to pay a civil penalty of $28,000 and an administrative fee of $5,000 in the next year. 

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