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Beaufort County Treasurer: I Am Fighting For Other Women, Too, With Lawsuit | Letters

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Editor’s note: The letter below is in response to FITSNews’ story on the lawsuit filed by Walls last week. Click here to read that story.

Dear Editor,

During my tenure as both Beaufort County’s Treasurer and, previously, as the Deputy Treasurer, I have led my team and served the people of Beaufort County decorously and honorably. I have witnessed the Treasurer’s Office transformation from the dysfunctional and discredited organization of ten years ago to one of credibility, exceptional performance, and quality customer service.

My team and I have been the first in the State to provide e-billing options for our customers, transparently share all collections data online, transition to a paperless environment, offer telecommuting positions, and leverage technology to achieve the highest investment revenues and collection rates that Beaufort County has ever had. These achievements have been recognized nationally and statewide by organizations such as the National Association of Counties, Thomson Reuters, and the South Carolina Republican Party.

When good people, do good things, good things happen. I think we all hope and want this to be the case but it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that bringing such extreme change to a government bureaucracy attracts both accolades and conflict. When conflict arises, it should be our expectation that it can be resolved in a professional and agreeable manner so that ideas and direction are nothing less than outstanding for our citizens. This has not been the case for Beaufort County and it is no longer tolerable.

For six years, I, as well as other women, have experienced physical intimidation, harassment and assault inflicted upon us by the Beaufort County Auditor, Jim Beckert. For six years, I, as well as other women, have sought guidance and/or relief from the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, County Council members, multiple County Administrators, multiple County Attorneys, the Human Resource Department, outside attorneys, State officials and others to no avail. For six years, I, as well as other women, have had to continue to work and serve, in many cases outstandingly, despite the extremely hostile and increasingly alarming environment. 

This type of conduct is simply indefensible. There is no belief, situation or occurrence that makes harassment, intimidation or assault appropriate.

It has been disheartening and appalling that so many would be aware of this inappropriate behavior and do nothing collectively to deter or prevent it. The inaction has not just resulted in continued suffering but the thievery of the taxpayers’ resources and the loss of outstanding professionals.

When all other options have been exhausted a choice must be made and the decision to take this course of action was not made lightly. Serving in the Treasurer’s Office has been one of the highlights of my professional career and my life. I have had the privilege of working alongside incredible professionals who have defied the stereotype of a ‘government’ employee. My decision is not punitive against any one of them but a demand that Beaufort County have a higher standard for our workplace and our organization. 

For ten years, I have fought for what is right for the taxpayers of Beaufort County and now I am fighting for what is right for the women employed by Beaufort County. 

Maria E. Walls

Beaufort County Treasurer

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