Richard “Dick” Withington said he is not dropping out of races for Horry County Council District 4 or the South Carolina State Senate District 34 and denied allegations that he attempted to gain thousands from four people as payment to drop out of the Horry County race.
“I’m going full speed ahead,” he said of both campaigns on Saturday and said he is still on the ballot for the Senate race.
Withington, 72, of Myrtle Beach was arrested Tuesday and is charged with inducement to file for, or withdraw from, candidacy for election, according to J. Reuben Long Detention Center records. He was given a $10,000 bond Wednesday afternoon and no-contact orders from several of the victims.
Withington said he was not asking anyone for money to drop out of the race and thought he was being given a “fishy” campaign contribution when he accepted an envelope from an undercover Horry County police officer on Tuesday.
Withington said he thought he might take the envelope to an attorney’s office, open it there, and keep the envelope — which he said he didn’t open — as evidence against the other party.
“They got me before I could get them,” Withington said.
He believes the case against him will be dropped.
“I doubt very seriously that this will ever go to trial,” he said. “I think once the facts are presented to the solicitor’s office, they’ll look at it, and I’m hoping they’ll decide not prosecute.”
Withington was shocked by his arrest and said his knees were scraped and his wrist punctured as he was whisked away to J. Reuben Long Detention Center in handcuffs that were too tight.
“It looked like a drug bust. Six or seven [police] cars came roaring in,” he said and added that everyone at the jail was courteous, but firm during his night at the county detention center.
According to an Horry County police report, Withington contacted four people, who police labeled as victims in the report, and offered to drop out of the county council race if they each gave him $20,000.
Withington said he sent out an email to some officials saying he would put more into his state race and might consider dropping out of the county race, but said he wasn’t threatening or trying to solicit bribes from anyone in that correspondence.
Withington had filed for candidacy for the race prior to sending an email, according to an arrest warrant.
An undercover officer talked to Withington, who said he wanted $20,000 from the victim, but said he would take $5,000 as his share from the victim instead, police said in the report.
Authorities made arrangements to meet Withington at 12:20 p.m. Tuesday to get the money, and the undercover officer arrived at the agreed-upon location with an envelope of $5,000, police said.
The Horry County police report contains redacted information involving the details of meeting and how money changed hands, but notes that Withington was arrested during that meeting, and an arrest warrant states Withington accepted the money.