'Want to know... Follow the money': Woman speaks on suit against Myrtle Beach Chamber
Myrtle Beach, S.C. (WPDE) —
A woman who has filed a lawsuit against the Myrtle Beach Chamber and the City of Myrtle Beach says the chamber funneled tax money through “crony companies” connected to the chamber so that those companies could make political contributions to politicians who supported the chamber.
Karon Mitchell is a former member of the chamber, but she says the chamber has not been transparent in how they're spending tax money.
ABC 15 spoke with Mitchell about her claims on Wednesday.
When Mitchell says crony companies, that doesn't mean illegal. She's claiming some of the companies the chamber deals with and writes checks to are ex-employees or friends of chamber members, she says she'll take the case to court if she has to.
"If you really want to know something, follow the money," said Mitchell.
She says she's been doing that since she felt something wasn't right with the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.
"You would not believe how deep the corruption goes, in my opinion," she said.
The original lawsuit says the chamber paid a company formed by a former chamber employee more than $60 million over the past seven years for internet marketing and other advertising.
She’s now saying that company and several others used that money to donate to various political candidates who support the chamber.
"It seems that most of the crony companies in Myrtle Beach touch every politician in Myrtle Beach," Mitchell says. She started digging, using websites like campaignmoney.com and followthemoney.org.
"I did my homework because these people never made one campaign contribution until they became a... Doing business with the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce," she said.
Mitchell says the time is right to sue because she wants to hold the new Myrtle Beach City Council accountable.
"I want for Myrtle Beach to be clean, I want it to be transparent, I want it to be honest, I want us to have enough police officers, I want them to be accountable for our money. Just do that!"
ABC 15 reached out to the chamber, the city and several of the companies named for comment. They say, they don’t comment on pending litigation.
In the past, the chair for the chamber's board of directors, and other members of the chamber rejected the claims of the lawsuit.