Specifically, we are told an internal investigation is in the works related to alleged irregularities in at least one account – a forfeiture fund comprised of cash seized during drug raids, traffic stops and related anti-narcotics actions. County officials may dig deeper into the sheriff’s budget in the weeks to come, with one source hinting that a formal, forensic audit may be in the works.
“Based on some of the appropriations from that fund (an audit) is warranted for sure,” our source told us, citing a particularly controversial decision by Boone to purchase a brand new GMC Yukon sport utility vehicle for his “official use.”
This news outlet has been provided with extensive documentation related to this purchase, one of many expenses county leaders would apparently like to see subjected to greater scrutiny. Based on the findings of an audit, an investigatory referral could be made to the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) – an agency with which Boone has been sparring for months.
SLED sources told us this week the agency has yet to be contacted by anyone in Florence with a request to investigate the sheriff’s budget.
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In addition to sparring with SLED, Boone has also been on the warpath of late against county finance director Kevin Yokim.
As we reported exclusively back in August, Boone left multiple threatening messages on Yokim’s voicemail earlier this year after the latter challenged him over an apparent attempt by Boone to vacation with his family on the taxpayer dime.
Boone’s response to the situation? Threatening those who criticized him …
“I assure you, and God is my witness, I will return the favor ten fold!!!” the recently baptized Boone wrote on his Facebook page.
According to our sources, county leaders began digging into the sheriff’s various budget streams after he demanded an audience with them last month to insist on pay raises for several members of his staff.
“He embarrassed us in public,” a source close to the council said, “then we come to find out how he is spending all that money he could be spending on raises for his deputies.”
The drama surrounding Boone – who is being challenged in the 2020 GOP primary by former S.C. Highway Patrol leader T.J. Joye – is part of a much bigger debate related to civil asset forfeiture, or the ability of law enforcement agencies to seize cash and other assets of value from civilians without the benefit of due process.
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Nonetheless, local law enforcement agencies in the Palmetto State are currently permitted to retain every penny of a cash seizure under $1,000. Above $1,000, they must report the seizure to the state and turn over five percent of the funds to state government and 20 percent of the funds to the local solicitor’s office. Also, local law enforcement officials and solicitors enjoy wide latitude in how they appropriate these funds – not to mention the institutional barriers they can erect to keep ordinary citizens from trying to get their money back.
Does that sound fair? Of course not …
“It’s simply wrong – a violation of our most basic liberties,” we wrote back in 2016.
Several state lawmakers agreed – including senator Tom Davis and representatives Todd Rutherford and Alan Clemmons. All three of these lawmakers – and others – have been pushing for years to reform to our state’s unfair civil asset forfeiture laws.
Stay tuned … we will keep our readers posted on the status of the inquiry into Boone’s spending as well as the broader battle to protect private property rights in the Palmetto State.
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