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Indictment Issued In Richland Recreation Commission Scandal




We haven’t written all that much on the Richland County Recreation Commission scandal.  We filed one report on the situation back in July, and published a letter to the editor on the subject last month.

Now there’s an indictment in the case, though … which means it is jumping higher energy level.  Specifically, it means S.C. governor Nikki Haley can suspend the dysfunctional agency’s director pending the disposition of the charge filed against him.

Some had argued Haley should have already suspended embattled director James Brown III given the commission’s bizarre governance structure (i.e. funded locally, but its commissioners appointed by the governor’s office at the recommendation of state lawmakers).

Anyway, according to reporters John Monk and Sarah Ellis of The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper, Brown has been indicted on one count of misconduct in office related to the scandal.  If found guilty, he could spend up to ten years behind bars.

Specifically, Brown is accused of using his position at the $13.3 million-a-year agency to “coerce and attempt to coerce” women who worked for him to engage in sexual activity with him.

Ahhhh.  The old “pen in the company ink” routine … except in this case, the alleged wrongdoing involves a superior employed in a taxpayer-funded position.

Brown isn’t the only commission staffer in trouble.  His son, James A. Brown – who also works at the agency, was busted on a slew of drug charges earlier this year.

S.C. Reps. Beth Bernstein and Kirkman Finlay – along with outgoing S.C. Senator Joel Lourie – have been demanding accountability for months in connection with this scandal.

In the aftermath of the indictment, S.C. Rep. Mia McLeod called on Brown to resign.

Hopefully he will do that …

S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson’s office will prosecute Brown, who was the subject of a multi-jurisdictional investigation that included the Richland County sheriff’s office, the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).