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Sunday, July 21, 2024 - 02:49 PM

INDEPENDENT CONSERVATIVE VOICE OF UPSTATE SOUTH CAROLINA

First Published in 1994

INDEPENDENT CONSERVATIVE VOICE OF
UPSTATE SOUTH CAROLINA

Alex Reynolds Thanks Council Member for Raising Taxes in Greenville County on Council Member’s Social Media Account

Dark Money SC RINOS

Wasteful spending and community service for personal gain have become par for the course in South Carolina politics. This election cycle has revealed much of the same. Now, attention is being turned to a couple of Greenville County council runoff elections. One of the run-off candidates, Alex Reynolds, is running to unseat Steve Shaw, a local favorite and one of the few defenders against the recent county tax increase. 

At present, Alex Reynolds is an appointed board member of the Greenville County Historic and Natural Resources Trust (GCH&NRT) and serves as the Communications Committee chairman. In this capacity, he has established a separate website for the Trust in addition to the County’s official webpage. This raises a crucial question: if Greenville County provides a website for the trust, as it does for every other county department and entity, why is there a need for a parallel private website?

ASR Web Alex Reynolds

Upon visiting the trust’s website, https://www.gchnrt.org, one will notice that it was created by ASR Enterprises LLC, a company registered to and owned by Alex Reynolds. What's intriguing is that while Mr. Reynolds is the registered agent, the business address listed with the secretary of State is a UPS store box.

In South Carolina, a registered agent is required to list a physical address, as that is where the legal process can be served. The South Carolina Secretary of State's official application explicitly states that a PO Box cannot be used as a resident agent address. This discrepancy in the listed business address raises questions about compliance with state regulations. 

Evidence reveals that the County has been disbursing funds to ASR every year Mr. Reynolds has served on the board: $463.45 in 2022, $883.08 in 2023, and $522.13 in 2024. Click HERE for a PDF of invoices. These payments are made with taxpayer funds, a fact that cannot be overlooked. The same trust fund that started with $1 million in its first year has ballooned to $4.5 million a year for 2023 and 2024, a significant benefactor with last year's tax increase.  

It’s hard to understand the motivation and wasteful spending behind this; perhaps it is an innocent and ignorant mistake. Alex claims the money covers expenses and shows the invoices on a private social media page.

Aside from poor optics, under South Carolina’s Ethics Reform Act (SC Code of Laws Section 8-13-700), “no public official … may knowingly use his official office . . . to obtain an economic interest for himself …  or a business with which he is associated.” Appointed board members like Alex Reynolds are public members under the Ethics Reform Act.

Maybe Mr. Reynolds is skirting the law or the ethical considerations here. Maybe he is misguided and trying to do a good deed somehow. But it’s disturbing to consider even these possibilities from someone running for a higher position with greater responsibility and access to public funds. As the Scripture reads, ‘He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.’ (Luke 16:10 KJV). 

County Council District 20 Candidate praising Councilman Joey Russo for making the hard decision to raise taxes in Greenville County last year.

This revelation comes on the heels of candidate Reynolds’ receipt of massive support from dark money and special interest groups that are at odds with the public. Residents of the district he seeks in this election (District 20) have said that they’ve received as many as nine separate orange fliers in the mail in support of Reynolds.

Upon closer examination, however, the fliers are paid for by Better Greenville, Conservation Voters of SC, and the real estate industry’s RPAC.  

Better Greenville is a dark money group that is thought to be comprised of developer and annexation interests in downtown Greenville and Greer. Its registered agent is in Columbia. There’s no way to find out whose money is bundled from because they don’t play by the rules of individuals or registered political action committees.

It’s estimated that this group has already spent $250,000 this cycle supporting candidates Butch Kirven, Chris Harrison, Mike Barnes, and Jay Rogers in addition to Alex Reynolds. The common thread is the support of the tax hike of last year, the new “penny” roads tax, and taxpayer subsidies for new apartment complex developers. They have sent mailers for Alex Reynolds using his campaign colors and themes.

Conservation Voters of SC is a Columbia-based fundraising operation that targets mailers to Republican primary voters in primaries across the state.

Prior to the filing period in March of this year, they mailed negative ads targeted at Steve Shaw. Since Republicans in South Carolina hold the majority and often run unopposed in the general elections, this group is widely alleged to be a mechanism for progressive Democrats to participate in Republican primaries. Their website states that “all of our efforts are rooted in racial justice and equity.” Remember, they have sent mailers on behalf of Alex Reynolds using his campaign colors and themes.

The Realtors Political Action Committee (RPAC) is a fundraising arm of the real estate industry. It supports candidates they believe will help realtors. Its website explains that “local governments are getting pressure from vocal groups to place strict growth controls on development.” Further, “RPAC is a tool to ensure that our business is not negatively affected by government.” Once again, they have sent mailers for Alex Reynolds using his campaign colors and themes.

With uncontrolled real estate development, a top issue, receiving the endorsement and mailers by the local Greenville County RPAC puts into question his decisions about who to place on important protectionary boards like the Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals.

These mounting questions about Alex Reynolds’ skirting the law, transparency issues, self-promotion at taxpayer expense, praising councilman who voted for increased taxes, and his receiving support from dark money, progressive, and developer groups have dogged Mr. Reynolds’ ambitions in the later stages of his campaign. It will be extra difficult for him to assuage the concerns of the conservative Republican voters he is courting in District 20.