Corruption On USC Board Alleged

TRUSTEES ACCUSED OF IMPROPER INVOLVEMENT IN CONTRACTS Three University of South Carolina trustees have been accused by fellow board members – and state lawmakers – of improperly steering tens of millions of dollars in business to a developer who has done business with their law firm. And may retain them…


Three University of South Carolina trustees have been accused by fellow board members – and state lawmakers – of improperly steering tens of millions of dollars in business to a developer who has done business with their law firm.

And may retain them again in the future …

One of the trustees – William Hubbard – is a former chairman of the USC board. Another – John von Lehe, Jr. – is the board’s current vice chairman. The third trustee is Thad Westbrook, is a political appointee who was embroiled in a major controversy last year when he failed to report $134,000 in campaign contributions sent to S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson.

All three men are partners at the powerful Nelson Mullins law firm – which represents Holder Properties, Inc., the Atlanta-based company which received the contracts.

Naturally all three of these men were smart enough to avoid personally voting on these contracts, right? Right? 

Um, no.

In fact two of them – Hubbard and von Lehe – currently serve on the University’s executive committee, which unilaterally approves small dollar contracts (and recommends the approval of larger dollar projects to the full board).

One of these projects? A $94.5 million student apartment complex approved for Holder Properties by the full USC board on January 16 of this year. Not only did all three Nelson Mullins trustees vote in favor of the deal, Hubbard and von Lehe’s committee actually presented the recommendation to the board asking that it be approved. Hell, von Lehe is listed in the minutes of the USC board meeting as calling for a second to approve the committee’s motion.

In other words, not only did they fail to recuse themselves from voting on the deal – they actively shepherded it through the approval process.

That’s shameless, people …

Neither the student apartment contract – nor a separate $25 million office building deal that also went to Holder Properties – were bid competitively. And our legislative sources tell us this is “just the beginning” of self-serving behavior demonstrated by these three trustees.

Holder Properties CEO John Holder told FITS his company is not represented by Nelson Mullins and that he has “no financial involvement with those guys.”

“There’s no relationship,” Holder told us, although he did say that his company used Nelson Mullins in 2012 on a development project in Columbia.

Holder’s company also developed the Meridian building in downtown Columbia, S.C., where Nelson Mullins offices are located.

“We may use them in the future,” he acknowledged.

Hmmmm …

Sure looks like Hubbard, von Lehe and Westbrook just put on one heck of an audition to get additional business from Holder …

Shady behavior is nothing new for Hubbard. Three years ago lawmakers were forced to file legislation in response to his unethical self-serving actions as a member of the board.

Amazingly, Hubbard held onto his job …

Hubbard, von Lehe and Westbrook did not return calls seeking comment on this story. Neither did University of South Carolina spokesman, Wes Hickman.

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LD March 7, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Well, duh!!! It is business a usual in the most corrupt state in the union. However, “lack of independence” doesn’t necessarily mean there is corruption. Anyway, I can assure you there are a lot worse issues than this involving “influential” people in SC.

nitrat March 7, 2014 at 6:04 pm

You REALLY must not be reading about the NYNJ Port Authority – sounds like these guys take lessons from Chris Christie’s David Samson

LD March 7, 2014 at 6:37 pm

Most elected and appointed officals do this. Those that don’t usually are re-elected or re-appointed. Follow the money.

What? March 7, 2014 at 9:30 pm

Hubbard is President of the ABA? Are you kidding? Take a look at their agenda: anti-gun, pro choice, etc. a lot of stuff worse than that. How did you miss that stuff, Sic?

a face in the crowd March 7, 2014 at 2:29 pm

This is why I prefer the Clemson board, as it only trumps up false criminal charges against those who out corruption to the public.

Will Folks aka Sic March 7, 2014 at 2:42 pm

HA! +2 for that … Clemson board WAY more corrupt than USC because a majority of it is serving unconstitutionally.

CNSYD March 7, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Since issuance of the Constitution of 1895 there have been multiple Governors, members of the General Assembly, Attorney Generals, Justices of the Supreme Court, etc. who could have raised this issue. To my knowledge, none did. Why is that? Oh I know, per Sic Willie everyone from 1895 to today is corrupt.

a face in the crowd March 7, 2014 at 2:55 pm

It is back in court, so there will be an answer at some point. In December Troutman filed suit for malicious prosecution.

CNSYD March 7, 2014 at 4:39 pm

“back in court”. So was he convicted or not? “malicious prosecution” Since only the prosecution can prosecute, exactly who is he suing? If it is the Solicitor. fat chance on that one. The judicial systems pockets are infinitely deeper that Troutman’s.

CL March 7, 2014 at 4:50 pm

A plaintiff in a malicious prosecution case sues the person who instigated the prosecution that he says were bogus. It is not the prosecutor you go after, but the person filing the charges with the police. If Troutman was acquitted of the charges against him, then he would have the beginnings of a colorable claim for malicious prosecution.

Scooter March 9, 2014 at 9:11 pm

Troutman is peeing in the wind and we know what happens when you do that.

john dozier March 7, 2014 at 6:47 pm

During my doctoral work I wrote a paper entitled “The Triumph of the Will” about the Clemson will and the five life trustees. The will has proven to be unbreakable after a number of attempts, thus Clemson remains the only public university that is privately governed. Considering its success in such a backward state, it should remain so.

Frank Howard March 7, 2014 at 7:19 pm

Good on you boy.

CNSYD March 7, 2014 at 8:40 pm

Is this John Benjamin Beauregard Dozier IV of Florence, SC?

john dozier March 8, 2014 at 10:49 am


Soft Sigh from Hell March 8, 2014 at 5:26 pm

“The Triumph of the Will”
Too funny! Excellent title. If it was a history dissertation or poly sci I suppose the profs “got” it.

Plumbline March 10, 2014 at 8:53 pm

The fact that the issue of Clemson’s life trustees has not been questioned until now may mean nothing more than all those multiple Governors, Attorney Generals, and etc., were not aware of the fact that Clemson’s life trustees were in violation of the State Constitution. Or, are you saying that if our elected officials do nothing about a state agency that is breaking the law, then it is okay for that agency to keep on breaking the law? As to “The Will,” it was turned into a piece of legislation and passed as a law. Charitable Trusts may withstand legal challenges, but laws can be changed and/or impacted by subsequent legislation. Clemson’s claim that the Act of Acceptance of 1889 is unassailable is wishful thinking and yet to be challenged. But, not for long.

Not Frank Howard but Close March 7, 2014 at 7:15 pm

Better to be thought a fool than to confirm it every other week with an idiot’s rant.

VoiceofReason March 8, 2014 at 2:42 am

Stupid idiot!

lions, tigers and bears March 8, 2014 at 11:00 am

Anything the Peelers touch is immediately tainted, soiled, spoiled and rotten to the core!
David Wilkins fits in perfectly with this crap!
With the life trustees, only death can cure the ills and illegalities.

Plumbline March 10, 2014 at 8:29 pm

Two of Clemson’s Life Trustees are also Nelson Mulllins partners- David Wilkins and David Dukes.

CNSYD March 7, 2014 at 2:49 pm

There is a difference between charges and conviction. How did it turn out for your boy?

Dao March 7, 2014 at 6:47 pm

I heard Hubbard is in the Florence Mafia. Did he marry into the Florence Mafia? Perhaps married one of the partners’ sisters in Reynolds Williams law firm?

Jim March 7, 2014 at 7:41 pm

No, Hubbard is from florence. Mark Buyck, Florence native and partner of corrupt Investment Commission Chairman Reynolds Williams, is on the USC Development Board.
The Development Board is full of insiders like Steve Benjamin and Robert Hill.
Sickening how these people are so interrelated.

VoiceofReason March 8, 2014 at 2:40 am


Well March 8, 2014 at 10:52 am

Clemson Board is just as corrupt as any!
With Wilkins and the (trash men) Peelers involved, it reeks!

Jackie Chiles March 7, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Who accused them of impropriety?

Bible Thumper March 7, 2014 at 2:54 pm

How did 3 partners get on the board? They should not even allow 3 lawyers.

anonymous March 7, 2014 at 10:09 pm

Published: March 22, 2013

68 MISSING Contributions

16 Missing payments

SC attorney general Alan Wilson discovers $134,000 in unreported contributions, expenses

S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson filed amended campaign disclosures Friday after an independent accountant found his campaign had failed to report 68 donations worth nearly $66,890.

The campaign also said it discovered unreported payments totaling $66,797 to 16 vendors

The unreported donations were discovered after Alan Wilson said he had returned $7,000 in contributions tied to House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston.

Half of the contributions came from Harrell’s campaign for Wilson’s inaugural ball. That $3,500 was listed on Harrell’s disclosure form but not on Alan Wilson’s.

Alan Wilson returned the $7,000, including another $3,500 contribution from a political-action committee tied to the speaker

The newly reported contributions include a $1,750 donation to Wilson’s campaign from the Charleston law firm of Harrell’s brother, John David Harrell.

Harrell’s appointment of his brother to the S.C. Judicial Merit Commission, which screens candidates for judges, was among the conflict-of-interest complaints against the speaker submitted to Wilson by the S.C. Policy Council

S.C. Policy Council President Ashley Landess said Friday that if Wilson thought he needed to return the earlier contributions tied to Bobby Harrell, he should return those tied to John Davis Harrell as well.

When Bobby Harrell’s unreported contribution was discovered, Wilson’s campaign investigated and found other contributions to his inaugural gala also were not included in disclosure forms. The campaign then asked an accountant to examine the quartersbefore and after the event – a period that covered September 2010 to April 2011.

Campaign chairman Thad Westbrook, a Nelson Mullins attorney, said in a statement.“He could easily have asked the campaign to correct the handful of errors that were initially found and stopped with that.”

Most of the missing donations – 53 of 68 – were given for Wilson’s inaugural gala. The other 15 contributions included nine that were made online.

anonymous March 7, 2014 at 10:11 pm

COLUMBIA — The campaign of State Attorney General Alan Wilson left off dozens of contributions and expenses totaling more than $134,000 from campaign disclosure reports

68 donations received after Wilson was elected totaling $66,890 and 16 expenses totaling $66,797 that were left out of disclosures. Most of the donations related to two days of deposits that went unrecorded, according to the campaign. Almost all of the donations were made in December 2010 or January 2011.

Many of the discovered donations came from lawyers or their firms.

Thad Westbrook was Alan Wilson’s campaign chairman.

Thad Westbrook first said there might be 10 to 15 undisclosed donations.

toto March 8, 2014 at 10:46 am

Learned how to steal and cheat from daddy Joe??

Sam March 9, 2014 at 7:14 pm

Who gives a shit about 200 dollars. The state and it’s taxpayers are being robbed by the good ole boys and all ethics commission can do is bitch about 200 bucks.

Haley, who I voted for, could care less about the Ethics Commission and its mission. Dump her. Put the crooked bastards in jail, and let us live in peace.

USC March 8, 2014 at 8:41 am

I am close to the USC Development Foundation, the “partner” with the developer Mr. holder of Atlanta.

I was told, after a few drinks that loosened my close friend up a bit, that this was one of the biggest pay days ever for the Foundation and the associated insiders. I was also told, and this is the shocking part, that some of the insiders were shocked at the deal and there was worry that a deal so rich would bring the whole house down.

I was floored. This is certainly worth watching.

anonymous March 8, 2014 at 3:00 pm

“Governor Nikki Haley has nominated eight people to serve on the State Ethics Commission.”

Trikki nominates another Nelson Mullins Lawyer to the State Ethics Commission ,,,,drum roll please: ….d.d.d.d.d.d.d.d.d.d.d.d.d.d.d.d.d.d..d.d.d….

……d.d.d.d.d.d.d.d.d.d.d.d.d.d.d.d.d.d.d.d.d…… James Burns, partner in the Law of Firm of Nelson Mullins.

Burns is hooked at the hip with Westbrook and the rest of the …uh …uh … uh …

CourtesyVan March 11, 2014 at 6:18 am

You mean ‘fat Russ’ was excited ? He might keel over with a heart attack…insiders talk about the need the protect the president by giving him ‘plausible denisbility’. Someone will take the fall just like John Parks did – remember that? Teflon Harris is standing at the right place.

Quinby March 9, 2014 at 9:19 pm

Florence Scum. Stealing this state blind.

James March 10, 2014 at 7:03 am

I think the scum of the earth rises to prominence in Florence. That town’s spawn are morally ambivalent, shameless, and possess an entitlement to the public’s money that is akin to a wigger chasing crack cocaine on Saturday night.

I say banish them all to Leatherman’s back yard, let Eddie Floyd throw a thousand dollars onto the ground and watch them all cannibalize each other over the money.

Anon March 7, 2014 at 3:26 pm

We have this job you might like Mrs. Sadat.

Anonymous March 7, 2014 at 5:13 pm

“Amazingly, Hubbard held onto his job …” Amazingly, Hubbard is president of the American Bar Association. Nelson, Mullins and Jean Toal are very, very close. Nothing is going to happen to this corrupt three-some. They’ll just send Ed Mullins and Dick Riley over for a chat with Jean with a Scotch or two and that will be the end of it. Then Nelson Mullins will pay out the ass for some charitable thing Jean wants done or sponsored. It would not be their first cocktail hour to smooth over some situation Nelson Mullins has gotten itself in. In RE: Anonymous…..

Class Reunion Co-Chair March 8, 2014 at 8:37 am

William Hubbard has not changed one bit since he was in high school in Florence.

Skip the details March 7, 2014 at 5:56 pm

Hey,,,,,listen up. What the hell? It doesn’t take a blogger or a reporter or anybody else to shed light on this. These are just the dirty details. Anything that is labeled a “public/private partnership” is going to be a shady deal where the voting powers elite get to line their own pockets. In the current world you have to be corrupt to get to the level to even get in position to play on these teams. FACE IT , the average joe wants to get off work and get drunk, then hit it again Monday. There is no way to turn this battleship around. Damn almighty – they don’t vote, they don’t take the news and most of them don’t read political pop culture blogs. That is why PORN is so popular. There are no hidden agendas – just out and out screwing without the drama.

dwb619 March 7, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Holder Properties, is this the same Holder of Holder Construction of Atlanta/

FLE March 7, 2014 at 7:44 pm

Holder is a big contributor to Leatherman and Haley. He uses straw men to make the donations, but they are grouped together by dates and Atlanta type addresses.

Alum March 8, 2014 at 2:35 am

Alumni who donate to USC are suckers.

anonymous March 8, 2014 at 6:21 am

“The third trustee is Thad Westbrook, is a political appointee who was embroiled in a major controversy last year when he failed to report $134,000 in campaign contributions sent to S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson.”

And they call this guy a “Trustee”?

anonymous March 8, 2014 at 6:55 am

“Hubbard, von Lehe and Westbrook did not return calls seeking comment on this story.”

That’s amazing, three freaking lawyers “TRUSTEES” don’t have anything to say for themselves. Lawyers are always running their mouth about something, in this case, the lawyers don’t have anything to say. Silence is consent.

Casual NM observer March 8, 2014 at 8:35 am

When you talk with those 3 Nelson Mullins trustees, ask them how much each of them makes each month on that “legal discovery” lawyer sweatshop they are running over there in the old Richland Fashion Mall. They have more than one hundred – some licensed, most not licensed – “lawyers” working for $17 an hour. These “lawyers” make less than any of the comparable lawyer sweatshops in the South. In Atlanta, in a similar situation, the lawyers make 45-50 an hour for this type work. Nelson Mullins partners make at least a million a month on whatever they are doing. I guess it’s legitimate and I am probably just jealous I am not getting a piece of it. They should provide benefits for these contract lawyers, however.

Tummy Enema March 8, 2014 at 9:44 am

Shit! Shit shit shit shit!

rwwllms March 8, 2014 at 11:12 am

Oh please, this is SC. Everything and everyone connected to any type of government is corrupted. After all, SC stands for So Corrupted.

euwe max March 8, 2014 at 2:04 pm

Taking their cue from the bailout – so what if they get caught? No one will go to jail, and everyone keeps their money. The victims will pay the tab.

Dan on Divine March 8, 2014 at 6:02 pm

Thank you, Sic, for providing those of us sitting down on Divine enjoying a cool beverage a good laugh this afternoon. The sense of entitlement these 3 Nelson Mullins shareholders possess cannot be imagined. Especially William Hubbard. Nothing they did is criminal and ethics do not matter at Nelson Mullins. They have gotten away with it in the past on things a whole lot worse than this minor conflict. Chief Justice Toal ALWAYS takes care of Nelson Mullins. Hell, she even hired Stephanie Nye as her #1 law clerk as a favor to Nelson Mullins for facts not yet proven or admitted.

anonymous March 8, 2014 at 7:11 pm

Nelson Mullins is NOT too big to JAIL

Miles March 8, 2014 at 8:24 pm

Nelson Mullins is a billing factory, especially as it comes to government billings. Partners like Westbrook who is Alan Wilson’s cash cow, and former Speaker Wilkins, who is Haley’s mr. Fix-it and entrée into big donors, are expert in trading cash and favors for eval work.

These firms also serve as “laundries” for large agencies and authorities like Ports Authority, Santee Cooper, the Universities, etc, The Government pays money to the law firms and then they pay the bills for the government…this is primarily money going to friends, associates, etc of the government high ups.

I have seen this done a hundred times. It is so easy.

____*____fly_on_the_wall March 9, 2014 at 10:11 pm

They are not escaping prosecution this time. And that’s a promise.

anonymous March 8, 2014 at 10:01 pm

Attorney General for the State of South Carolina Forced to Refund Monies on Ethics Violation

South Carolina’s top prosecutor Alan Wilson needs to refund $200 to a lobbyist who donated to his 2010 campaign, the State Ethics Commission said Friday, March 7, 2014

Commission attorney Cathy Hazelwood said she sent letters Thursday to Attorney General Alan Wilson and former state Rep. Joyce Hearn, who gave $150 to his campaign in November 2009 and $50 in March 2010. State law bars legislators and statewide officers from taking money from lobbyists, and Hearn was a registered lobbyist for the South Carolina Credit Union League both years.

The prohibition “goes both ways. A lobbyist can’t give, and a candidate can’t receive,” Hazelwood said.

Her letter gives Wilson’s campaign 10 days to fix the problem.

Wilson’s political consultant, Richard Quinn, said Friday the campaign was unaware Hearn was a lobbyist then.

But Hazelwood said it doesn’t matter when Hearn’s lobbying job ended. Lobbyists can’t make a donation at any time during a year they lobby the Legislature, even if the job lasts only a day, she said.

“The termination of the relationship does nothing,” she said.

Hearn, a House member from 1975-1989, worked as a lobbyist for the credit union league from January through May of 2009 and 2010, corresponding with the January-to-June legislative session. She continued lobbying for the league through June 2013, according to her disclosures with the ethics commission.

Her donations were first reported by the Charleston Free Times.

Last March, Wilson’s campaign corrected his filings after a review by an independent accountant found $134,000 in previously unreported donations and expenses surrounding his 2010 win. His campaign chairman attributed the 68 donations and 16 payments to human error.

As South Carolina’s attorney general, Wilson’s job includes prosecuting criminal violations of ethics law.

Asked whether errors in Wilson’s own campaign filings affect his ability to do that, John Crangle of Common Cause said it points to a needed change in the system. Crangle has long argued the SC attorney general’s race should be publicly funded. Any attorney general taking private money from special interest groups is “fundamentally an invitation to corruption,” Crangle said.

“It shows at a minimum that some campaign staffer fumbled the ball,” he said. “It does cast a cloud.”

Wilson’s investigation into former GOP Lt. Gov. Ken Ard resulted in Ard resigning and pleading guilty in 2012 to misdemeanor ethics violations. That came nine months after Ard paid a $48,000 fine to the state Ethics Commission.

In January, Wilson announced he’d sent ethics allegations against House Speaker Bobby Harrell to the grand jury, a month after receiving a report from the State Law Enforcement Division. Harrell, R-Charleston, maintains he’s done nothing wrong and said the announcement’s timing, a day before the legislative session started, appeared to be aimed at hurting him politically.

Wilson, also a Republican, is seeking a second term this year. As of his January ethics filing, he had nearly $635,000 cash available.

anonymous March 9, 2014 at 7:14 am

COLUMBIA — The campaign of South Carolina’s top prosecutor is refunding $200 to a lobbyist who donated to his 2010 campaign and correcting campaign filings so that a legal firm didn’t appear to give the maximum donation twice, following notification from the State Ethics Commission.

Richard Quinn, the cam­paign spokesman for At­torney General Alan Wilson, said Friday that one of the $3,500 donations from Hall & Bowers, a legal firm that represents Republicans, should have been applied to debt from the previous cycle.

Commission attorney Cathy Hazelwood said she notified the campaign about what appeared to be an excessive contribution. Hall & Bowers gave $3,500 – the legal limit per campaign cycle – in September 2010, January 2011 and September 2012, according to campaign filings.

Hall & Bowers

Butch Bowers, the former Chairman of the South Carolina State Election Commission and a former Special Counsel for Voting Matters for the United States Department of Justice.

Kevin Hall, an experienced business litigator and one of the most well-known attorneys in South Carolina’s political law arena.

Todd Carroll, an experienced appellate and trial attorney who also serves as special counsel to the governor.

kyle March 9, 2014 at 12:28 pm

They should be disbarred if attorneys and removed from the Board of Trustees. That is an example of an incredible abuse of power. They thumbed their noses at the law as officers of the court (if attorneys), their duty to USC, taxpayers, and the State of SC. Removed and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Civil actions by USC as well against them. This is just another play from the manual of a too cozy relationship between lobbyist, law firms, legislators, and big money contractors wanting to line their pockets. This runs contrary to FREE MARKET ENTERPRISE!

anonymous March 9, 2014 at 3:41 pm

“Hazelwood says the ethics agency has sent a letter to both of them about the matter.”

“The letter is going to ask for a refund from Wilson to Hearn,” and an explanation from the then-lobbyist, she says. At this point, that’s the process the ethics agency will go through, Hazelwood says. But that could change if someone were to file a formal complaint with the agency. If that happens the Ethics Commission will go through the complaint process, which could include formal investigation.

John Crangle, who directs the state chapter of Common Cause and has advocated for stricter ethics rules, says the issue underscores how the Legislature has neglected the State Ethics Commission by cutting its budget for several years. And he says in cases like these just refunding the contribution isn’t enough.

“You can’t cure the problem by giving the money back,” Crangle says. “They did the criminal act. In my view, if you take the illegal contribution and you put it in your campaign account and later on you cut a refund check you still violated the law. Each candidate should have a mechanism in place to monitor the total contribution of every source.”

sick of bottom feeders March 9, 2014 at 2:06 pm

every time I read stories like this, I am disgusted. is everyone a thief? each and every person that is in a position of authority should decide whether they can do their job in an ethical manner or step aside for someone that can. this crap is a disgrace to the university, to SC and mankind in general…….SHAME!!!! DISGRACE AND DISGUST!!!

Check Them All March 9, 2014 at 10:03 pm

Why has the South Carolina Dept of LLR stopped checking employers doing business in the state for violations of our illegal alien laws? There are 3 contractors at the construction site of the new USC Darla Moore School of Business that are using illegal aliens to do their work. They circumvent the law by hiring individual illegal aliens as sub contractors. In other words, each illegal is listed as a sub and issued a 1099 ,,,

Murray_Lake March 11, 2014 at 11:11 pm

So let’s see. .Westbrook is chairman of the Lex Med Center foundation board, same group that “hired” Haley. They “settle” the matter and deep-six any discussion of her and Westbrook winds up on USC board. Draw your own conclusion. Seems fishy to me. . . .


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