DIRECTOR ACCUSED OF “MISCONDUCT IN OFFICE …”
South Carolina’s House legislative oversight committee has issued its long-awaited report on the scandal-scarred S.C. Department of Public Safety (SCDPS) – and its findings are absolutely scathing.
In fact the panel’s report – issued late Friday (April 21) – could be the final nail in the coffin of SCDPS director Leroy Smith, who was hired by former governor Nikki Haley in 2012 (against our advice) and who has been blessed by current governor Henry McMaster (also against our advice).
Will McMaster continue to stand behind this embattled law enforcement bureaucrat?
We shall see … but the legislative oversight panel’s report on Smith’s agency is far more damning than the report that led McMaster to request the resignation of former S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice (SCDJJ) director Sylvia Murray.
According to the subcommittee tasked with reviewing SCDPS – which oversees the S.C. Highway Patrol (SCHP) and other public safety assets – the agency has failed to perform its core law enforcement mission despite receiving more than enough money from taxpayers.
The report confirmed what this website has been exposing for months about this agency’s performance under Smith – including evidence of soaring traffic fatalities, lax law enforcement, misappropriation of public funds, poor recruitment (and retention) of officers and double standards in the administration of internal justice at SCDPS.
In fact we gave our readers an exclusive sneak preview of this committee’s findings earlier this year – and we’ve published several recent reports (here and here) addressing the consequences of SCDPS’ failed leadership.
Now these failings have been laid out in black and white for all to see …
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One unexpected twist? According to this subcommittee, “more money” isn’t the answer to these problems.
“Lack of funding is not the issue,” the report concluded, citing the colonel of the SCHP as saying “there are resources in the budget to hire more (troopers) and the lack of officers on the road is not the result of lack of funding.”
Wow … when was the last time you heard a government panel say something like that?
This website has previously called on McMaster to fire Smith – whose salary was stripped from the upcoming 2017-2018 state budget by frustrated lawmakers.
He hasn’t done so. In fact his office slammed lawmakers for criticizing Smith – taking a page out of Haley’s book.
The bipartisan House subcommittee – comprised of S.C. Reps. Katie Arrington, Eddie Tallon, Todd Rutherford and Bill Hixon – made it abundantly clear Smith needs to go. In fact, their report concluded Smith’s “bad behavior” at the head of this agency “rises to the level of misconduct in office.”
They also determined that Smith’s “mismanagement” of taxpayers resources meets the “statutory provision for removal” from office.
“This mismanagement has resulted in a downward spiral of morale among agency employees, decreased overall agency performance and increased risk of harm to all those who travel the roads of South Carolina,” the subcommittee members said in a statement accompanying the 98-page report. “We
firmly believe major changes are needed in management personnel and agency policy to reverse this downward
In addition to refusing to fire Smith, McMaster initially refused to meet with family members of SCHP troopers who wished to express their concerns about the current direction of the agency. Earlier this week, though, McMaster reversed himself and agreed to meet with the troopers’ family members.
Hopefully he will soon reverse himself on Smith’s status.
In addition to his managerial issues, Smith – who is black – has a history of playing the race card in response to criticism. He has also been accused of discriminating on the basis of race in discharging his duties at SCDPS.
Several of his appointees have also been accusing of lying to committee members investigating the agency – and encouraging others to lie.
Under oath, no less.
This website has been on the leading edge of this agency’s problems for months now. Count on us to continue to keep our readers up to speed on the latest.
As we’ve said repeatedly, law enforcement is a core function of government and should be funded commensurately. And according to this report, it is being funded commensurately.
That’s why its abysmal outcomes – and Haley and McMaster’s failure to hold its leader accountable for those outcomes – is so disappointing.
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