Even More Twists
Berkeley County is always guaranteed to provide entertainment to those who like watching the corrupt get skewered, but we have even more twists as the election for sheriff approaches. Earlier this week one local news outlet reported on the fact that candidate Duane Lewis was using a fraudulent degree in “fire science” he purchased from a fraudulent “college” as a cornerstone of his campaign. He repeatedly told voters he was the only candidate with a degree, thus he was the only one qualified to be sheriff. Unfortunately for him that degree is not worth the paper it is printed on.
When is a degree not a degree? When it is nothing more than a piece of paper purchased from a family of con artists eventually shut down due to government lawsuits. In some states it is even a criminal offense to list a “degree” from Western States University on a resume or job application. Public servants across the country have lost their jobs for claiming these fraudulent degrees. It also seems that claim of “over 30 years of law enforcement experience” doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, either.
Curiously, after news of the fraudulent “degree” broke, Duane Lewis didn’t put any reference to his degree on his website, but included it in campaign literature. There are many who claim Lewis is refusing to acknowledge the claims, choosing instead to hunker down and ride it out on the advice of the apparatchiks in the Berkeley County Republican Party. The same folks who have failed to call for an “emergency” meeting to address the issue. This was also a favorite tactic of his mentor Wayne DeWitt.
Lewis forgot to delete it from his Facebook page.
Lewis must have realized how badly he screwed up since he should be looking at a year in jail for violating Section 16-13-15 of the South Carolina Code of Laws, to wit:
You see, Lewis works for state owned and run Santee Cooper. In addition to knowing someone important to get an upper level job there you also have to have a college degree. So, when will the SLED investigation begin? Probably never, since Lewis also has the support of powerful state politicians like Larry Grooms. Below is a copy of a conversation a citizen had with Grooms about the lies and fraud of Duane Lewis.
A FOIA for Lewis’ personnel file and application for employment with Santee Cooper should reveal whether or not he claimed that degree during the hiring process. As a state run agency they have to comply. Santee Cooper has already told the media they will continue to conceal the fraud because it is a “personnel matter”. Curiously, while the local media likes to rush to FOIA the personnel files of real police officers they have made no mention of doing so to get to the bottom of this situation. That is because powerful politicians at the state level are involved in this dirty situation.
During the primary candidate Franco “Bulls Balls Intimidate Me” Fuda, at the behest of others, filed a complaint against Brian Adams, who forgot to write in the date he graduated high school when he filled out the application to run for office. The Berkeley County Republican Party, responsible for ensuring the accuracy of those documents, approved it and qualified that candidate to run. Given what we now know we have to wonder if they did, in fact, notice the omission and were holding on to it for later use.
Just before the primary Fuda filed the complaint and an “emergency” meeting was called by the BCRP to address the situation. Due to community outcry by Adams supporters the BCRP backed down and voted to leave him on the ballot. They really had no choice since state law actually covers clerical errors made on those documents.
When that tactic did not work the powers that be sent losing candidate Jerry Merrithew to FITS News a few days before the run-off with a claim that Adams had offered him a job in exchange for his support. They sent him to FIT because none of the local media would touch that story. FITS chose to run the story. FITS did a story earlier this week in which they indicated Merrithew’s claims were indeed questionable and that a state level politician (we’ll give you one guess) was also involved in the scam. Some folks took that second story as a retraction, but FITS and Merrithew have doubled down on the claim now.
Anyone who watched this election could have seen that claim coming a mile away. When 9 of the failed candidates endorsed Lewis he made a point of telling the media he had not promised them anything “because that would be illegal”. It didn’t take a genius to see how events would unfold right before the election, particularly when one considers Lewis was hand picked as a replacement by his mentor, the former drunken Sheriff DeWitt, and the powers behind the throne at the Berkeley County Republican Party. How many other candidates got chaperoned by chairman Tim Callanan throughout the county while they were campaigning?
When news broke of Duane Lewis’ degree fraud outraged voters began commenting on the party’s Facebook page. That didn’t last long. Tim Callanan promptly closed the group in an effort to silence the growing dissension in the party. Even folks who voted for Lewis were angry and demanding answers. Now you can only comment there if you are an approved Republican. Voters who legitimately question the ongoing fraud are being locked out of any chance to interact with their party’s leaders or take them to task for condoning the fraud.
Terry Hardesty, another bigwig in the party made a journey to a Facebook page started by outraged voters and attempted to defend his man Lewis. Why would he do that? Well, because Callanan shut down the BCRP forum and locked those folks out. Hardesty was asked multiple times by different voters what the procedures were to file an official complaint with the party regarding the fraud perpetrated by Duane Lewis. Hardesty pointedly failed to answer the question each and every time. Instead, he simply told the voters their continued questioning of the man chosen to be sheriff by the Republican Party would only result in a Democrat being elected.
Well, Terry, since the Democrat didn’t lie on his forms, and hasn’t been lying about a particular issue for 20 years or so, his election might mean you actually have an honest sheriff. Your claim is a red herring since a black Democrat who is not actually campaigning for the office would never win in Berkeley County anyway.
Party apparatchik DeAnne Trout chose to visit the site started by those cast out of the BCRP’s fold and leave comments like the one below.
WTH was that? We love how thugs, criminal and political, like to resort to calling on God when their misdeeds and corruption are exposed.
Callanan, Hardesty and the rest of the party apparatchiks are hanging their hats on their claim no fraud was involved. Looking at the affidavit for sheriff shown below we do note there is no space to include information about a college degree. And that is the technicality the Berkeley County Republican Party considers their saving grace. As long as the claim was not made on the affidavit they see no basis for questioning or disqualifying their chosen candidate and there is definitely no need for them to address the concerns of the voters who were lied to and voted for Lewis based on the lie. The lies and the fraud engaged in that may have led to Lewis getting his current job at state owned Santee Cooper do not seem to matter a whit to those Republicans. Their guy seems destined to win and the secrets will stay buried. And that, dear reader, is what is most important in Berkeley County. Secrets staying buried.
The new motto of the BCRP should be “party over honesty and integrity”. It seems no one in the BCRP actually cares about restoring public trust in the sheriff’s department as long as the fellow they keep referring to as “our candidate” is elected over a Democrat or an outsider who could dig up and expose some of those secrets. They tried to remove a candidate they feared because he missed an entry on his form, yet they refuse to take action or even acknowledge the outright lies and fraud perpetrated on taxpayers and voters by Duane Lewis.
Lewis can’t even tell the truth about his place of birth. He claims on his Facebook bio he was “born and raised in Berkeley County”.
According to his filing documents Lewis was born in Conway. Don’t you think the citizens of Berkeley County deserve a sheriff who actually knows what towns and cities are in his jurisdiction? The last time we checked, Conway was in Horry County.
Considering the fact that the lone Democrat is not actually campaigning, we doubt Hardesty’s concerns about a Democrat getting elected are valid. Lewis is already the winner of the upcoming election be default if he can survive this latest scandal. The fact he used lies and fraud to do it means nothing to those running the Berkeley County Republican Party or to many of the abysmally few voters who actually bother to participate in the process in Berkeley County. What does matter to them is “their” guy taking the office. When that happens all of those lumps under the carpets will stay right where they are.
After he lost by a few hundred votes in the run-off Brian Adams threw his support to Duane Lewis, like a good Republican is expected to do. He toed the part line. Adams was praised by Lewis and party apparatchiks for contributing to party unity. He even showed up at Lewis’ return watching party to congratulate him.
Based on the obvious fraud committed by Lewis, Adams withdrew his support in a statement yesterday. He was immediately jumped on by Lewis and the leaders of the Republican party and called a “two time loser” with an axe to grind engaging in a “political stunt”. We find it strange that in an election where the Democrat is not actively campaigning and where Adams is no longer a factor the powers that be in Berkeley County still seem to be afraid of him. Condemning Adams for withdrawing his support for an ethically challenged candidate yet failing to take any sort of action against that candidate who told the lies is the epitome of hypocrisy. But then again, that is something we have come to expect from those folks.
It seems the Berkeley County Republican Party is still afraid their secrets will eventually get out because a group of pissed off citizens has now organized a write-in campaign in Adams’ name. According to the law, as a losing candidate in a primary, Adams cannot organize or participate in such a campaign. What citizens do, however, is completely up to them. That’s the “democratic process with a little d” that Terry Hardesty likes to refer to when chastising voters who question the party’s chosen candidate. Despite what Hardesty and Larry Grooms like to claim as they try to quash this grassroots effort, you can write in an anyone you want on a ballot.
These citizens, after being locked out of the Berkeley County Republican Party Facebook page started their own - Concerned Voters of Berkeley County. Within 72 hours they have a group membership of almost 3,000, several hundred of which were former Lewis supporters.
We find it interesting that citizens are calling the Election Commission in an attempt to register their complaints of fraud by Duane Lewis. When they do, they are instructed to call the Ethics Commission. When they call the Ethics Commission they are instructed to call the Election Commission. Your government at work, folks.
Since this controversy blew up two other candidates have announced write-in campaigns. Derrick Burbage, who attempted to get in as a petition candidate and failed, has announced a write-in campaign. He threw his support to Adams after he could not gather enough signatures to get into the run-off. Former Hanahan police chief M.C. Bellew has also announced a write-in campaign. It looks the field is being flooded yet again. Could the ultimate goal be the dilution of a voting block of concerned citizens determined to write-in Adams?
We don’t put anything past the dishonest tyrants who run the show out there in Berkeley County.