SC

SCDOT: Costly Corruption Ongoing

COMMISSION THREATENS TO FIRE AUDITOR FOR EXPOSING FRAUD || By FITSNEWS || More than four years ago, this website began exposing widespread corruption at the “reformed” S.C. Department of Transportation (SCDOT).  Specifically, we uncovered a massive vote-trading scam aimed at routing scarce funding toward non-essential projects (while critical maintenance needs…

COMMISSION THREATENS TO FIRE AUDITOR FOR EXPOSING FRAUD

|| By FITSNEWS || More than four years ago, this website began exposing widespread corruption at the “reformed” S.C. Department of Transportation (SCDOT).  Specifically, we uncovered a massive vote-trading scam aimed at routing scarce funding toward non-essential projects (while critical maintenance needs went unaddressed).

We’ve been all over this agency ever since … repeatedly documenting its failure to prioritize existing needs so that it can continue subsidizing wasteful projects.

(Projects it then claims as part of a “shortfall“).

Ignoring this corruption and fiscal recklessness, a major push was undertaken last year by status quo lawmakers to raise South Carolina’s gasoline tax – even though Palmetto State residents already pay more of their income in fuel than residents of any other state (save Mississippi and West Virginia).

Thankfully, this effort – which would have pumped more money into the same failed system – was unsuccessful (thanks to  S.C. Senator Tom Davis).

Also unsuccessful?  Efforts by SCDOT’s chief internal auditor – Paul Townes – to root out fraud at the agency.

“We used to do fraud investigations at DOT, but we’ve been restricted from doing those now,” Townes said during a recent legislative hearing.

Wait … what?

Not only that, Townes said audits which made SCDOT look bad were frequently “tabled.”  In other words, they were withheld from state lawmakers.

“We’re to distribute all our audits to the commission as well as four legislators overseeing (the) committee,” Townes said.  “I recently received a new job description that says the commission wants to review them before the legislature sees them.  Now we’ve got a new step in here that’s being proposed that the commission would have the authority to see them, and stop them actually, before they were sent over to the legislature.”

Again … what?

It gets even better … well, worse if you’re a South Carolina taxpayer.

For his efforts to hold this agency accountable, Townes is now in danger of losing his job.

“Either Mr. Townes needs to understand that we are his boss, the Commission, or he needs to find another job,” SCDOT commissioner Mike Wooten told him during the meeting.

Wooten – who chairs the SCDOT subcommittee that oversees internal audits – admitted that information has been withheld from lawmakers.  Not only that, Wooten said these withheld audits are not subject to the state’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) law because they were never made “final” – i.e. approved by the SCDOT commission.

In other words, he’s hiding them from the public, too.

Unbelievable …

So to recap: An agency which has proven utterly incapable of responsibly managing our tax money (leading to a disastrous infrastructure situation) not only hid fraud reports from state lawmakers and from the public – but is now trying to fire the guy who prepared them?

Yes.

And this is the agency we’re supposed to shower with billions of dollars in new revenue from a gas tax hike?

Hell no …

This commission must be abolished.  SCDOT must become a full cabinet agency directly accountable to a popularly elected governor – not a puppet of powerful lawmakers with vested interests in the status quo.

Of course based on her prior two choices (here and here), state lawmakers would be forgiven for waiting to enact this reform until S.C. governor Nikki Haley is out of office.

But the bottom line is unavoidable: The current system is corrupt.  And no amount of additional money is going to fix that.

Which is true across-the-board in state government …

In fact all of the “Republicans” who have breathlessly supported raising gas taxes have also approved billions of dollars in new spending on South Carolina’s worst-in-the-nation government-run school system, its duplicative and inefficient higher education system, bailouts for wealthy corporations, shady ‘economic development‘ deals and … lest we forget … dozens of exorbitantly expensive and totally unnecessary highway projects.

As we’ve repeatedly said: “The money is there.  More than enough, even.  Lawmakers just need to spend it wisely.”

They also need to insist on real accountability – not coverups and intimidation – from SCDOT.

***

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30 comments

RogueElephant August 19, 2015 at 12:52 pm

“We used to do fraud investigations at SCDOT. but we have been restricted from doing those now “. WOW. The foxes have completely taken over the guarding of the hen house. This dept .needs at top to bottom audit and be placed under the governor’s office as a dept. No more of this commission crap.

Reply
TroubleBaby August 19, 2015 at 12:55 pm

“But the bottom line is unavoidable: The current system is corrupt. And no amount of additional money is going to fix that.”

Hmmm….even the magical mystery “core function of gov’t” theory seems to fall short of explaining why gov’t can’t even do the job of it’s basic/core function in Willieland.

Maybe the answer is gov’t itself is the problem?

Nah. It’s just the “current system”….we need a better/newer system and then the rainbows will come out and unicorns dance across the newly wetted fields in my fantasy plains.

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Obi Won August 28, 2015 at 10:18 pm

Wikigov is only answer.

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jimlewisowb August 19, 2015 at 12:56 pm

….“Either Mr. Townes needs to understand that we are his boss, the Commission, or he needs to find another job,” SCDOT commissioner Mike Wooten”…

Note to POS Fucking Cockroach Wooten

Dear POS Fucking Cockroach Wooten:

You need to understand that we, the taxpayers, are your fucking boss and we are fed up with lousy highways, traffic congestion and excessive unnecessary spending by you and the rest of SCDOT Cockroaches.

As of this moment Cockroach Wooten your name has just moved to the top of the list and you should be one of the first to be loaded onto the Donkey Carts

thanks for you time and have a great day
jim

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Soft Sigh from Hell August 19, 2015 at 5:56 pm

Citizen Wooten needs a little shortening.

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Superfly August 19, 2015 at 1:07 pm

Mr. Wooten needs to understand that every scrap of paper at DOT is subject to FOIA, unless prohibited by statute. That means working papers, notes, preliminary reports, emails to the DOT Commission Secretary from or to him, phone logs, phone message logs, anything and everything physically existing within the confines of DOT, is subject to FOIA. These crooked bastards need to be removed immediately. These assholes are a large part of the roads and infrastructure disaster in South Carolina. How the incompetent members of the General Assembly allow this to fester is incomprehensible.

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Sic Semper Tyrannis August 19, 2015 at 1:27 pm

The whole State is run by corrupt republicans, no news here, move on.

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Elfego August 19, 2015 at 4:44 pm

Bozo,you have tunnel vision. The blindness comes from Party Politics and you just add to the problem.

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Sic Semper Tyrannis August 19, 2015 at 6:31 pm

Yep and ?

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Soft Sigh from Hell August 19, 2015 at 5:54 pm

Who cover up for each other.

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TrikkiNikki August 19, 2015 at 6:32 pm

Agreed! We have waaay more corrupt republicans than corrupt democrats. Either way, we’re screwed.

Reply
uyee9kohpoh August 20, 2015 at 2:03 am

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Reply
Denozitall August 19, 2015 at 8:06 pm

Typical. Agree.

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Leroy's Boy August 19, 2015 at 2:02 pm

You should see the cover ups that Leroy and his corrupt clique have going on at DPS.

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nitrat August 19, 2015 at 3:37 pm

If there is one thing the SC cabinet system has proven is that there is absolutely NO accountability for the agency or the governor once an agency is in the cabinet.

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Cola Kid August 19, 2015 at 3:53 pm

Dont mess with DOT big money projects and especially the groups that are on the recieving end.
The Charleston developer group love by all were caught bribing to get a $60 million project that they did get. After the client reported the bribe to authorities along with other frauds committed, the whole case was dismissed by a completly different judge. Their case was reinstated after fighting to show the mistake. Adter being reinstated, all documents were removed from court record and case dismissed again. The client documented payments to Bobby Harrell and other Judiciary committee members that showed up before each crazy coincident.
End of the day Beach boys walked away with projects, client money and their businesses. Not one agency would even look into the claims. Southern crooks alive and well. Dont get in their way if you value anything you own, business, property or a good name. They take it all with no consiquences. Thats what the payments buy them. PROTECTION and ALL THE BIG MONEY PROJECTS.
It looked like there was going to be some prosecutions but too many names began to show up.
WHERE IS THE JUSTICE DEPT??

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Elfego August 19, 2015 at 4:42 pm

America has become corrupt in all facets of government to the point there is no turning back.The Criminal Justice System in America has also been shown to be a farce and America will never recover because we do not have enough honest folks left in America to overcome the corruptness we have created.

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RHood2 August 19, 2015 at 4:58 pm

Expect an FOIA lawsuit pretty quick on the “unapproved” reports. Reports do not have to be approved. Just made. It’s in the definition of a public record in the FOIA.

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Same 'ol Same 'ol August 19, 2015 at 5:25 pm

So, what could be done and by who? If you submit FOIA requests you’ll be met with exorbitant charges so no one can afford the docs. There has to be something that can be done.

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johnperna August 19, 2015 at 6:13 pm

Wooten says that they are going to fire Paul Townes
at the next Commission meeting.

Would the people of South Carolina be better
off if Paul Townes had Wooten’s job,

or maybe Christy Hall’s job?

Why do we never hear that corruption is rampant?

Is it because, when corruption is rampant, no one dares to
call it corruption?

Is it because when corruption is rampant the watch dog is
eliminated instead of the criminal?

Who benefits from eliminating the watch dog against
corruption,

other than those who are involved in the
corruption?

Gov. Nikki Haley could fix this with a phone
call.

Gov. Nikki Haley’s phone number is

Phone: 803.734.2100 803
242-4558
Fax: 803.734.5167

Reply
The Buzzman August 20, 2015 at 7:50 am

Problem is, Gov. Nikki Haley is as corrupt as any of them. Maybe more so. And many of them have stuff on her that could screw up her national ambitions. She hopes to finish off her current term and get the hell out of SC and on to some national office, before it all catches up to her.

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TrikkiNikki August 19, 2015 at 6:30 pm

Anybody that knows anything about Mike Wooten knows that he and his civil engineering firm, DDC Engineers, has Horry County in its back pocket. This slimy bastard even brags about being the “go-to” engineering firm in Horry County. When they don’t win a project, they protest and complain causing massive delays making other firms not even want to work in Horry County. Mike Wooten is nothing but a bully who happened to get appointed to the SCDOT commission because of the folks he knows in the State House.

I think for him to deny the public to see documents, especially internal audits, is hilarious. I hope he and his cronies are finally outed for the blatant lying, cheating and clearly not-so-ethical behavior.

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Sic Semper Tyrannis August 19, 2015 at 6:32 pm

Ok, and ?

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TrikkiNikki August 20, 2015 at 1:31 pm

Time for this slimy bastard to go!

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Return of the Helpful Friend August 20, 2015 at 12:11 am

DDC Engineers is known to be corrupt and had a role in corruption involving both Harrell and US Rep Tom Rice, which is known in FITSDom as Coastal Kickback. Wooten is the missing link. Dig dig dig and you have a major unfolding story.

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Michael J. Stefonick August 20, 2015 at 7:47 am

Excellant report. I have never seen such corruption among those we elect and trust. The state reps are a disgrace as are the Judges. The system of judicial appointment and the entire SC body of law enforcement needs to be cleaned up.

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Philip Branton August 20, 2015 at 11:16 am

Ha……what Mr. Wooten does not understand is how the NSA can whiff some records to the Jenny Deerin folks to be used to whack the Leon “Stavver” campaign in the Charleston Mayoral election to “Phumagate” SC-DOT and the “Gervais gerbils” all at the same time…!!! If Mr. Wooten does not stop and consider the Hillary Server fiasco is a template for the pot he finds himself in……just wait. Don’t think that the fiasco at SC State “transportation” funding does not have a “whiplash effect”…! Clyburn is a whip….!

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Philip Branton August 20, 2015 at 11:33 am

Mr. Wooten………..you do understand how this article is to be used….don’t you..? http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20150819/PC05/150819294/1505/state-ports-authority-land-on-daniel-island-to-be-set-aside-for-parks-use

Dare to wonder how Mr. Wil Folks can connect these dots…!?

Mr. Wooten…………why do you think Mr. Wil Folks has a timely article such as this to coincide with this timing of a SPA article..?

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Philip Branton August 20, 2015 at 11:37 am

Mr Wooten…….how would a great lawyer SUE the SPA and SC-DOT for lost income revenue from loss of use by these landowners…? How much ENERGY could be produced on this parcel and SOLD back to the residents of Daniel Island alone…!?

Mr. Wooten………….a hurricane is brewing…..!

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Concerned August 21, 2015 at 11:06 am

Well, Mr. Townes didn’t get canned at the commission meeting, however Mr. Hardee (Sen. Leatherman’s son-in-law) did threaten to take roads away from the City of Columbia because he doesn’t like a project that is in construction. You would think an agency that continuously talks about having one of the largest road systems in the country and needs billions of dollars more in funding would not want any city streets in it system is now moving to take city roads by force. Unbelievable!!!!

Reply

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