NEW ALLEGATIONS OF HARASSMENT …
Numerous media outlets have picked up the story – including the allegations we reported on involving unwanted sexual advances made by the fiscally liberal “Republican” toward multiple women.
One of these women – a House staffer – filed an ethics complaint against Hardwick on April 30. A hearing on that complaint was scheduled for this week, but the Horry County lawmaker resigned before that hearing could take place (reportedly after being shown the evidence that had been collected against him).
Upon learning of Hardwick’s resignation, a decision was made to cancel the hearing.
In addition to the staffer who filed the complaint, at least one female lobbyist has reportedly been the recipient of Hardwick’s unwanted advances. Additionally, FITS has learned that Hardwick has been accused of making unwanted advances toward two female members of the S.C. House.
The names of all of these women – including the two female lawmakers – have been provided to FITS, although we have made the editorial decision not to identify them.
What a mess, right?
No word yet on what formal charges – or lawsuits – might be forthcoming against the 63-year-old politician, but sources familiar with the situation tell FITS Hardwick’s unwanted overtures toward the women in question were “very aggressive.”
Hardwick – whose affinity for imbibing copious amounts of alcohol was no secret – is married with three children.
Beyond his personal issues, Hardwick was one of several lawmakers dogged by the “Coastal Kickback” – a brazen pay-to-play scam in which hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign cash was funneled through a fabricated network of corporations to select politicians in exchange for their support of a local tax hike.
Neither he nor his colleagues were ever held accountable for their actions related to that scam, but watchdogs insist the investigation is ongoing.
Hardwick’s resignation will trigger a special election for the House seat he is vacating. Filing for that seat will open on May 29 and close on June 8. Primary elections will be held on July 28 with runoffs on August 11, if necessary. The special election to ultimately fill the seat will be held on September 15.
“Any inappropriate activity related to the men, women and staff that serve in the House chamber has been and will continue to be investigated thoroughly and expeditiously,” S.C. Speaker of the House Jay Lucas said. “Each of us have been entrusted with the opportunity to serve the public and that trust must never be called into question.”
Lucas’ office will be releasing documents related to the Hardwick investigation to the public later this week.