A few days ago, I was sent this PDF file, which was attached to an e-mail that proclaimed, "Belinda Gergel Lies on Ethics Report." The accusation of lying, as near as I can determine, is unsupported, and therefore reprehensible. (The e-mail was forwarded to me by a Brian Boyer supporter who was unable to tell me where it originated.)
What you will see if you call up the document is that it includes scans of a lot of documents, including Belinda Gergel‘s SEC filing that explains that her husband is the president of Gergel, Nickles and Solomon, P.A., but under "Income and Benefits from State and Local Agencies in South Carolina" for the past year, cites only pay that she received for part-time teaching at the College of Charleston.
The implication is that she and/or her husband received income from work that Richard Gergel’s law firm did for the city. Richard Gergel answers the charge this way:
This document is floating around as part of a smear campaign against Belinda. There is no secret that I have done legal work for the city for many years, just like I have done for many other governmental agencies in S.C. including the Governor, the Supreme Court, the Budget and Control Board, the State Retirement System and the Workers Compensation Commission.
When Belinda decided to run, we resolved that I would cease all work for the city once she was elected. I realized last October that I had no outstanding projects with the city and thought it was a good time to cut off any further work on my part. I wrote Council and have done no work for the city since that time. We also arranged that any work done by other members of my firm would be under a legal entity in which I have no financial interest and even with that Belinda would recuse herself from all votes relating to those legal services.
Further, the smear states that the firm has paid an "estimated" rate of $300 per hour. Where do they get these things? The firm has never been paid more than $140 per hour for legal work, which is a significant discount from our normal hourly rate.
I suspect this is just the beginning of the smear that will come over the next two weeks. Makes you wonder why you would ever seek to run for public office. You live an entire life of honor and integrity and have a bunch of folks hiding behind the anonymity of the internet to smear you. If they have something important to say, why are they insisting on communicating anonymously?
No one has come forward to defend the attack. When they do. I’ll be glad to present you with that argument as well.
A footnote: Richard Gergel does not know exactly where the PDF originated, but he did share with me something he had obtained: "the original FIOA request from a Charleston law firm seeking information on my legal work with the city." Here is a PDF , provided by Mr. Gergel, of that FOI request.
Mr. Gergel notes that:
The letter is dated May 2, 2007 but the fax transmittal of the firm indicates that it was sent May 7, 2007. Belinda began telling people she was considering the race in late April 2007 and the first press mention of her candidacy was May 3, 2007. These guys have been cooking this thing up from the moment she began her candidacy but have apparently been holding the smear back until late, apparently hoping to do it at a time and in a manner that Belinda could not defend herself.
Anybody who has other thoughts to share on this subject — and especially anyone who can add to our knowledge of the document’s origins — this would be the place to share.