The three Republican Horry County school board chair candidates have collectively raised more than $41,000 in an effort to be the next chairperson, according to records from the South Carolina Ethics Commission.
Ken Richardson has raised $29,000, Janice Morreale raised $11,425 and Pat Milley $1,250, according to data from contribution reports obtained Friday.
So far, businesses, attorneys, Coastal Carolina University trustees, a school board member and a former U.S. Secretary of Education and South Carolina governor have poured money into the Republican primary election.
Former car dealership owner and Horry-Georgetown Technical College area commissioner Ken Richardson, District 5 school board member Janice Morreale and former teacher Pat Milley are all vying for the nomination on Tuesday. The winner will face Democrat Heather Johnson in November’s general election.
Richardson has led the pack in campaign contributions. He raised $16,500 in donations and loaned $12,500 to his own campaign, according to ethics commission records.
Records show he’s spent $27,500 on signs and campaign manager Donald Smith.
Richardson is unique because more businesses have donated to his campaign than either of the other candidates.
While Morreale and Milley have racked up most of their donations from individuals, Richardson has picked up the support of Burroughs and Chapin, A & I, Vaught Eye Associates, Graham Golf Cars, Myrtle Beach Automotive, Arnold’s Pools, Venture Engineering, First Choice Heating and Air Conditioning and architecture firm Mozingo and Wallace, and others, according to campaign filings.
He’s also received the support of two Coastal Carolina University board of trustee members. He received a $500 donation each from Trustee Delan Stevens and the Law Office of Natasha Hanna, headed up by CCU Trustee Natasha Hanna.
“I would say the reason I’m getting support from the community is because the community thinks I’m the right guy for the job,” Richardson said.
“You’ve got to understand that a lot of these guys, when they were in business, they would call me for donations,” Richardson said. “When Lindsay Graham was running, Danny Isaac from A & I, Danny called me raising money for Lindsay Graham. So I kept a list of all the guys I’d given money to and called them.
“I was in business for 40 years,” Richardson said. “Every single political cycle, I got hit by everybody so all I did was return the favor.”
Records show that Morreale has raised $11,425 and spent only $966, leaving $10,459 available through the end of the campaign.
Those funds went to car decals and a program that generates a list of registered voters, she said, adding that she doesn’t have a campaign manager.
Some of the $10,459 in available money paid for campaign signs, she said, but it hasn’t shown up on her expense report because she hasn’t received the invoice.
While Richardson received a donation from the Law Offices of L. Morgan Martin, Morreale, a paralegal, picked up several donations from area attorneys, and has earned some support within the school district.
Of the 26 donations recorded in Morreale’s contribution filings, at least seven have come from attorneys at Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough, where Morreale works as a paralegal.
Richard Riley, a former U.S. Secretary of Education and South Carolina governor, is a partner at the firm and gave Morreale a $500 donation.
Morreale also received $750 from the political action committee of Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough.
“I’m a paralegal, so I have a lot of relationships with attorneys,” Morreale said.
She received three other donations from other area attorneys — Audra Byrd, Dundee Carter and Joseph Sandefur — and said that all of them have kids in the school district.
She also got donations from within the district, including board member Sherrie Todd, Horry County Schools coordinator of project management Dennis McCrary and retired St. James High School principal Joe Dowling.
“I have a proven track record with experience on the board and I have relationships with people in the community who know I have done everything I said I was going to do when I ran six years ago,” Morreale said.
Milley has raised $1,250, including $1,000 of her own money, and said she only spent money on the candidate filing fee and campaign signs.
Milley has filed her quarterly report, but her ethics filings don’t report money spent on the campaign signs, because she said she didn’t think her expenses had to be included.
Most of Milley’s donors are her acquaintances.
Aside from herself, Milley had four donors: her cousin Gloria Reaves, neighbor Anita Moran, longtime friend Boyd Ford and former school board member Sandy Mishoe.
She said she doesn’t want to ask for money for her campaign and that all of her donations have been unsolicited.
“I just simply can not ask for people for money for my campaign,” she said. “I’m praying for God to multiply our efforts and liberate the children. I hope the people decide that enough is enough.”
Christian Boschult, 843-626-0218, @TSN_Christian