Horry County Council Chairman Johnny Gardner makes a point as he questions former Horry County Administrator Chris Eldridge in 2019. 

State officials have accused Horry County Council Chairman Johnny Gardner of six ethics violations, including failing to disclose two bank loans and accepting campaign donations over the legal limit.

The State Ethics Commission determined there is probable cause to support the allegations at a meeting last week. A hearing on Gardner’s case is scheduled for Aug. 19 at the commission’s office in Columbia.

"Basically it was just poorly recorded, bad record keeping," Gardner said Tuesday. "We'll deal with the commission and do what we need to do."

Commission records outline the case against Gardner:

• He failed to disclose a $20,000 bank loan in a 2018 pre-election campaign report.

• He failed to disclose a $50,000 bank loan in a 2018 quarterly campaign disclosure report.

• He failed to disclose a $1,200 contribution from Randy Beverly on a 2019 quarterly disclosure report. The donation was also over the $1,000 cap.

• He failed to disclose an $8,700 contribution from then-campaign advisor Luke Barefoot on a 2018 campaign disclosure report. The donation was also over the $1,000 cap.

The complaint against Gardner was filed by William Martin of Myrtle Beach last year. Martin declined to comment on the matter Tuesday, saying he was advised not to discuss the case by ethics officials and the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED).

However, SLED spokesman Tommy Crosby said that agency is not investigating Gardner.

News of the ethics complaint was first reported last year by journalist Tyler Fleming.

Check back for updates.

Contact Charles D. Perry at 843-488-7236


I'm the editor of myhorrynews.com and the Carolina Forest Chronicle, a weekly newspaper in Horry County, South Carolina. I cover county government, the justice system and agriculture. Know of a story that needs to be covered? Call me at 843-488-7236.

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