Sunrise CEO: Election Conflict Claim 'Simply Not True'
Antjuan Seawright, the new CEO of the Columbia PR firm, said the Richland County elections aren't smeared by his firm's involvement.
Michael Letts, a failed candidate last week for Richland County Council Seat 8, said the involvement of the PR firm's founding partners in both oversight of the elections board as well as the 1-cent sales tax raises suspicions.
Darrell Jackson is both a state senator, who chairs the county's legislative delegation that oversees the county election board, and the founding partner of Sunrise Communications.
But Antjuan Seawright, the current Sunrise CEO, said while he and Jackson were personally in favor or the penny tax, that was as far as their support went.
Seawright told Patch that any suggestion that his firm or anyone associated with his firm manipulated the election is inaccurate.
“Such charges are simply not true,” he said.
Seawright confirmed Jackson is the majority shareholder in Sunrise, but bristled at the suggestion that Jackson used his position in the Richland County legislative delegation to appoint — via the Richland County Election Commission — Lillian McBride as the director of elections.
“He’s just one person in the entire delegation. There are other people providing input on who is appointed,” Seawright explained, who lost in his bid for a seat on the Richland County School Board of Trustees.
Much of the controversy since last Tuesday’s election is focused around the Penny Tax and the implication that officials sympathetic to the tax may have used their influence to assure its passage.
The firm's other cofounder, Heywood Bannister, was a chief strategist for the 1-cent sales tax effort. Seawright said Bannister and Jackson were previously officers in Sunrise but no longer are. Bannister, according to Seawright, left Sunrise in 1992.
“People need to get their facts straight before they start making accusations,” Seawright said.