Greenville’s Sketchy Reform Voices

When disgraced politicians start talking about “accountability …”

We unleashed a bit of a political tsunami in Greenville, South Carolina this year with our coverage of the Will Lewis scandal.

Lewis, the 42-year-old sheriff of Greenville County, has been accused of drugging and raping one of his female subordinates – 23-year-old Savannah Nabors – and then covering it up.  News of these allegations was reported exclusively by this news site in late August.  We were also the first to report on an ongoing multi-jurisdictional investigation into Nabors’ allegations led by the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED).

Earlier this month, we also broke the news of Nabors’ bombshell lawsuit against Lewis – which contained audio recordings in which the embattled sheriff was overheard conspiring to defraud taxpayers in the hopes of advancing an extramarital affair with Nabors.

Based on that evidence, we were the first media outlet in the state to call on Lewis to resign.

Unfortunately, Lewis isn’t resigning … and no one can make him resign, either.

Unless he’s indicted on a crime of moral turpitude (which would prompt an automatic suspension by the governor of South Carolina, Henry McMaster) … Lewis stays put.

Some members of Greenville County council are upset over the bind in which Lewis has put them.  One of them, Ennis Fant, told WYFF TV -4 (NBC – Greenville/ Spartanburg) this week that the situation calls for a drastic change in the way law enforcement is administered in the county.

“Right now, the current system does not provide taxpayers with oversight, accountability (and) transparency.” Fant told the station. “No protections for employees. Everything that this country stands for as a democracy is violated under the current system.”

Strong talk …

Fant wants Greenville County to move to a policing system in which he and his colleagues appoint a county-wide police chief.  The sheriff’s office would remain an elected position under this proposal, however it would be relegated to a paper-pushing position while the county police force handled the lion’s share of law enforcement.

Our view?

Honestly, we don’t really care how Greenville structures its law enforcement.  We think Fant’s proposal would lead to unnecessary duplication in law enforcement services, but whatever.  If that’s what Greenville residents want, it’s their choice.

As for this news site, we think all county-level law enforcement positions should be appointed by the local governing boards – and held accountable to those boards.  We’ve never seen the benefit of electing sheriffs independently.  In fact, in the decade we’ve been covering Palmetto politics the current system has produced nothing but scandals.

Our beef with this proposal?  Its author.

Fant’s desire for “oversight, accountability and transparency” in county government is commendable, and as noted above we’re not necessarily opposed to his idea.

But let’s never forget this is a guy who pleaded guilty to selling his vote – and then turned state’s evidence in an effort to save his own skin.

That’s right … Fant was one of several state lawmakers indicted in the Operation Lost Trust bribery scandal of the early 1990s, something he conveniently neglects to mention whenever he cites his prior “service” in the S.C. House of Representatives.

Now Fant – a Baptist preacher – has the audacity to lecture us on ethics in government?

Please …

At the city, county and state level, government in South Carolina is (and has always been) the definition of a “swamp.”  And one reason is that self-serving politicians like Fant keep turning up like bad pennies.

Enough …



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