Message from Mayor Bryan Franklin
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning. I am directing the town staff to post on our website a tab with all FOIA’d documents and a tab with all current litigation documents (and/or links where citizens can easily view such public documents). This does not include any documents that are deemed attorney-client privileged or harmful to any legal proceedings (as determined by the town’s attorneys responsible for and representing the town in the action).
The format should be:
Requesting party’s name
Requesting party’s FOIA request
Date of request and date of submission
All responsive documents submitted
Going forward we will do this with any new FOIA request.
Response to The Voice Newspaper article
On October 26, 2023, the Voice newspaper issued a front page article entitled ‘Franklin continues to hide Town’s expenses for MPA lawsuits.’ This headline is intentionally misleading and patently false. The article goes on to say ‘Franklin continues to prohibit the Town’s attorneys from revealing to the public, the message, the media and even some town council members how much the town has spent.’ This is also false. The town attorneys work for and represent the town and its citizens. The town attorneys do not work for nor represent individual council members nor the Mayor individually. For example, if evidence shows that I, any council member or any staff member has acted unethically or illegally, the attorneys for the town would represent the town against that person who would be adverse to the town. This is why Councilman Donald Brock and Ms. Ashley Hunter became adverse to the town. FOIAed information, which is currently in the possession of the town attorneys, shows what appears to be fraudulent and illegal activities perpetrated by Brock and Hunter. The town’s litigation attorneys represent the town government. I have never once directed any town attorney to withhold FOIAed information. The professional attorneys determine what is FOIAable to the public based on the laws of this state. Information that is deemed proper by them is sent to the requesting parties. An example is the recent FOIA submitted by Barbara Ball. Her request was submitted and actioned by Pete Balthazor, our town attorney. Mr. Balthazor actioned this FOIA in consultation with the other town attorneys, and he never once spoke with me about it. What they submitted to Ms. Ball was what they determined was legally required. I was never consulted, nor have I ever spoken to Mr. Balthazor about his actions. Therefore, this statement in the Voice is misleading and false. Furthermore, Ms. Ball writes that ‘Burnett also works on the MPA/Town legal matters for the Town and Franklin...’ This too is false. Ms. Burnett has never worked for me in any individual capacity. She was formerly the town attorney and has been since retained to represent the town in the MPA cases. Ms. Ball goes on to list ‘the four main attorneys who represent the Town and Franklin.’ Another known falsehood. The only attorney who has been retained to represent me in an individual capacity by the town’s insurer is David Morrison. He was retained by the town’s insurance carrier to represent me in a separate frivolous defamation suit filed by Ms. Hunter of MPA Strategies since I was individually named in that suit. Later, Ms. Ball says ‘Franklin said he has, from the beginning, been ready to settle the legal matters with MPA.’ However, she leaves out the known fact that I along with the town administrator acted in good faith at the outset of this case and spent an entire day attempting to amicably reach an agreement even though the town has done nothing wrong that I have seen or been advised of. The parties could not agree on a settlement. Ms. Hunter has not reached out again since that time. I have maintained that settlement is always an option up until the trial is over, pending approval of council. Lastly, Ball says ‘Franklin has the authority - given by council - to reveal how much the Town has spent on legal costs with MPA. He has so far chosen not to reveal the costs from the public and even from some of his council members.’ This statement is also false. I do not have the authority to override the legal opines of town attorneys, nor can I put the town at risk by acting in such a way that revealing attorney-client privileged information would do harm to our citizens. As stated above, we will post all FOIAable information for all to see on the town’s website now, and forevermore.
I now demand that Ms. Ball and the Voice retract the known falsehoods listed above and correct the story so Blythewood citizens are not further misled and lied to. Had Ms. Ball acted in good faith and followed basic, accepted journalistic integrity and ethics standards, she could have corrected all of this with a simple phone call or email asking real questions. I would have elaborated just as I have done here to clarify the facts. You’ll notice nowhere in her biased article did she quote me. In fact, she never contacted me at all to attempt to corroborate her story, as is required under journalism ethical standards. I will always stand to defend our town against false allegations, elicit and unethical attacks by outside agents and sitting council members, and a corrupt press, even if publishers ‘buy paper by the truckload and ink by the barrel.’ I recommend you reach out to all parties mentioned in libelous news articles and discern for yourself the truth because the authors who write these politically motivated hit pieces certainly haven’t. We should also hold Ms. Ball and the Voice accountable for their biased statements by asking them directly, ‘Why did you not reach out to the parties you are accusing of wrongdoing to get their comments or clarifications for your stories?” I think you will find that often the press does not reach out because the truth will disprove their ridiculous, harmful, libelous and false narratives. Stay alert citizens for further deception and evil intent – it is easily disproved when it is brought into the light. We can only make informed decisions when we have examined both sides of a story, and the Voice, published by Barbara Ball, is a master of omitting or ignoring the factual side of an argument or story. We must stand together to end this unethical practice. God bless the Town of Blythewood and God bless you all.”
In your service,
Dr. Bryan S. Franklin, PhD
Mayor of Blythewood, SC