SC

State Lawmaker Seeks Hidden SCDOT Audits

WILL CORRUPT AGENCY COUGH THEM UP? || By FITSNEWS || This week our website broke the news of another major scandal at the S.C. Department of Transportation (SCDOT).  Long story short?  One of the agency’s powerful commissioners – Mike Wooten – has been leading an effort to withhold agency audit…

WILL CORRUPT AGENCY COUGH THEM UP?

|| By FITSNEWS || This week our website broke the news of another major scandal at the S.C. Department of Transportation (SCDOT).  Long story short?  One of the agency’s powerful commissioners – Mike Wooten – has been leading an effort to withhold agency audit reports from state legislators.

And from the public …

Not only that, Wooten is trying to fire the internal auditor who prepared the reports.

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

Over the last seven years, SCDOT has seen its budget soar from $1 billion to $1.6 billion annually – a 54 percent increase.  Still, 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).

The reason?  Plugging a so-called “shortfall” – calculated by none other than SCDOT.

Fortunately this effort was unsuccessful – thanks to  S.C. Senator Tom Davis.

PHYLLIS HENDERSON
PHYLLIS HENDERSON

Now another state lawmaker – S.C. Rep. Phyllis Henderson – is taking steps to try and protect taxpayers.

In a letter sent to SCDOT commission chairman Jim Rozier, Henderson is asking for information previously hidden from the legislature (and the people they represent).

“We appreciate your team following up on these issues and providing the information,” Henderson wrote to Rozier.  “We also appreciate the agency’s continued cooperation during the legislative oversight process.”

Will she get what she’s after?  Let’s hope.

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.

What should be done to reform it?  Well for starters its corrupt 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.

That way taxpayers can hold someone accountable when critical repairs are ignored in favor of projects like this.

In the meantime, we will continue to probe SCDOT’s corrupt commission – and Wooten.

Stay tuned for much, much more …

***

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16 comments

TroubleBaby August 20, 2015 at 8:59 am

Cue the parasites @ the SCDOT whining about SC having one of the lowest % gas taxes per gallon and ignoring the fact they piss away money, hide audits, & are generally inept/incompetent.

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Max August 20, 2015 at 9:01 am

Wooten needs to go.

Henderson is 100% correct. Post the audits, and only then will the DOT heal itself.

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once a crook always a crook August 20, 2015 at 9:29 am

Why does this shock anyone? No one asked for the Audit that showed the Budget and Control board and Bonitz flooring group were taking Millions upon millions of tax payer dollars for carpet and other flooring that was never even ordered? Audit proved it (never made public though), no money was ever payed back and no charges were ever filed. I can only guess why that was.

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The Colonel August 20, 2015 at 9:48 am

Go Phyllis Henderson go!

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Return of the Helpful Friend August 20, 2015 at 10:11 am

Look to Wooten’s history in Horry County prior to 2011. MB Mafia all the way. One of the main players of the so-called “Coastal Kickback.”

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tomstickler August 20, 2015 at 11:37 am

Wooten is a major player in pushing the I-73 boondoggle. He was chair of the Grand Strand Business Alliance, that commissioned Parsons Brinckerhoff to “evaluate” the reports on the economic benefits of I-73 vs upgrading the existing roads that I-73 would parallel.

He completely misrepresented the results, saying that P-B validated the Chmura I-73 report when it did no such thing. The P-B report mentioned — almost in passing — of the calculations for increased tourism as a result of projected travel time savings “However, while these impacts may occur over
time, they would be subject to many other factors not considered, and should be regarded as having a very wide margin of error and be viewed as illustrative
rather than definitive….The travel efficiency benefits estimated in the NESA study still appear substantially overstated relative to the FEIS analysis….”
while completely overlooking that these “illustrative rather than definitive” calculations are the sole basis for the claim that I-73 would generate 18,856 future jobs from increased tourism alone.

As a Commissioner, he pushed SCDOT to apply for a $15 million TIGER grant from the federal government to upgrade the shoulders of SC22. The stated aim was to enhance safety: the hidden aim was that the SC22 stretch of his hoped-for I-73 could be tolled if that was the only way to get it built.

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The Buzzman August 21, 2015 at 9:05 am

Wooten’s LinkedIn tells us he is a graduate of “The Citicel.”

https://www.linkedin.com/pub/mike-wooten/3a/195/57a

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tomstickler August 20, 2015 at 11:08 am

Wooten is scheduled to present an audit report to the Thursday meeting of the SCDOT Commission as this is being written: http://info.scdot.org/PressRelease/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=2045

For “non-hidden” audit reports: http://www.scdot.org/inside/Internal_Auditor/reports.aspx

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TrikkiNikki August 20, 2015 at 1:33 pm

Wooten never should have been appointed to the SCDOT commission in the first place!

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johnperna August 20, 2015 at 1:49 pm

Paul Townes does NOT “work for” the people that he
is auditing.

He works for the people of SC, and so do those who
are trying to censor his reports.

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Corpus Juris Secundum August 20, 2015 at 2:34 pm

Jim Rozier has plenty of dark secrets himself from his long past days in Berkeley County. If you are keen to charismatic psychopaths and how they operate, Rozier falls easily into that category. As to SCDOT, I know people on the inside. And I used to hear all kinds of things that would make you jaw drop with respect to the mess that agency is in from very poor leadership, performance, the theft of computers and other state property, the purchase of goods illegally with state credit cards, you name it. People there did try to question it, but were told to “shut the fuck up” and “mind your own business.”

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ELCID August 20, 2015 at 4:05 pm

Another Haley appointment crime job.
Remember the idiot she put there before? This character: St. Onge.
Never had a major public job, never lead a massive budget, zero engineering experience, couldn’t even pay the highway contractors on time resulting in larger late charges, finally caught drunk driving on I-20 coming back from shacking up with some gal in Lexington County.

Looks like every appointment Haley has made is a massive failure. Simply giving high paying government jobs as kickbacks and gifts to her fellow criminals.

Unbelievable that Haley has not been arrested and put in jail, much less impeached. She’s the worse governor in SC History since “Pitch Fork,” Ben Tillman. SLED is just hiding under her skirt. Just disgusting!!

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Bob Hall August 20, 2015 at 9:56 pm

What about the rash of retirements in the past year because of the report that the “no jobs with companies doing business with DOT for 365 days. What positions and where are they today??

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The Buzzman August 21, 2015 at 8:58 am

Any and all coverage of Wooten’s mismanagement at SCDOT needs to look at his history. What were his affiliations, why was he appointed, and who sent him?

He is the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce’s man at DOT. Period. But he was not just a member of that body. He was part of what a chamber insider has called “The Inner Cabinet”, which is also referred to as “The Committee.” They’re the ones who really run things.

If he is mis-managing the agency, he is mis-managing it for them. If he is waging a war on transparency for the agency and its doings, he is waging that war for them. Rozier is also joined at the hip with US chamber interests, and has the support of that body’s various iterations on the southern end of the SC coast.

Why would the chamber want to support people in such positions who bend the rules so recklessly, seem to have an air of invincibility about them, and work diligently at hiding much of their activities from the public?

Simple answer: It’s who they are.

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MEDIA STATEMENT ON THE APPOINTMENT OF MIKE WOOTEN AS VICE CHAIRMAN AND JIM ROZIER AS CHAIRMAN OF THE SCDOT COMMISSION
Jan. 15, 2015
Media Contact:
Brad Dickerson
Media Communications Manager
Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce/CVB
O: (843) 916-7235 / C: (843) 421-6699
Brad.Dickerson@VisitMyrtleBeach.com

MEDIA STATEMENT

In response to the appointment of Mike Wooten as the vice chairman of the South Carolina Department of Transportation Commission and Jim Rozier as chairman of the SCDOT Commission, Brad Dean, president and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, issued the following the statement:

“We applaud the SCDOT Commission on their election of Mike Wooten as vice chairman and Jim Rozier as chairman. Commissioner Wooten has continually proven himself to be an effective leader through his role as commissioner of the SCDOT’s 7th District. He understands how important and vital transportation infrastructure is to the economic futures of the Grand Strand and Pee Dee regions. His vast engineering and business background will no doubt be beneficial to the SCDOT Commission in his new leadership role. Additionally, we are very pleased with the election of Jim Rozier as commission chairman. Commissioner Rozier is a longtime coastal leader who also knows the positive impacts transportation infrastructure can have on coastal communities. We wish both commissioners well in their new leadership roles, and stand ready to work with the entire commission on its quest to expand and enhance South Carolina’s transportation infrastructure system.”

///

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The Buzzman August 21, 2015 at 9:13 am

SC Rep. Henderson’s sincere and totally justified concerns cannot be easily dismissed.

She’s as solidly pro-business as they come. She’s one of only five in the SC legislature who have been given a 100% score on being pro-business by the SC Chamber of Commerce.

2015 Legislative Scorecard
The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce’s 2015 Legislative Scorecard
http://issuu.com/southcarolinabusinessmagazine/docs/2015_scorecard

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