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SC Politics

‘Watchdog’ Escorted From Lowcountry South Carolina Town Council Meeting

Local government drama …

A self-styled government watchdog was escorted brusquely by law enforcement from a town council meeting in the South Carolina Lowcountry earlier this month.

But perhaps not as brusquely as he deserved …

The local governmental drama went down on Tuesday, March 14, 2023 at a regularly scheduled council meeting in Bluffton, S.C. – a town of approximately 35,000 located in southern Beaufort County just west of Hilton Head Island. Bluffton is one of the fastest-growing municipalities in the Palmetto State, having nearly tripled its population over the last fifteen years.

A magnet for growth, Bluffton has also become a magnet for political activity – much of it emanating from self-styled government ‘watchdog’ Skip Hoagland. I have referred to Hoagland in the past as “insufferably antagonistic and menacingly vulgar,” an individual whose “hate-filled missives have clogged email inboxes around the state for years.”

To his credit, Hoagland brought an important case before the S.C. supreme court several years ago regarding tourism marketing agencies which receive taxpayer funding. Unfortunately, he lost that case – dealing a tremendous setback to legitimate efforts by others to hold quasi-government agencies accountable for their spending of taxpayer dollars.

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Hoagland has had a running battle with Bluffton leaders for many years – one which has previously landed him in hot water. In February 2022, a jury in Beaufort County awarded Bluffton mayor Lisa Sulka $50 million in damages after concluding that Hoagland had defamed her.

That judgment is currently under appeal …

The latest dust-up began when Hoagland – who is not a Bluffton resident – attempted to garner an extra three minutes of speaking time during the council meeting by citing a power-of-attorney document provided to him by resident Lynn Greeley.

Bluffton limits individuals wishing to comment publicly at council meetings to three minutes, but Hoagland was attempting to circumvent that rule so that he could speak for an extra three minutes. Hoagland also violated the town’s rules when he turned his back on the council approximately forty seconds into his speech.

That’s when the wheels fell off …

The official video of the town council meeting is available here (with the drama beginning at around the 14:45 mark) …

(Click to view)

The County Channel (YouTube)

When Hoagland refused to leave the podium after being ruled out of order, police removed him – an action he actively resisted.

Video of Hoagland being removed from the meeting was posted – but later deleted – from Vimeo. This news outlet obtained a copy of that video independently, however.

Take a look …

(Click to view)

FITSNews (YouTube)

While some may be inclined to view the actions of these Bluffton officers as an example of excessive force, I do not.

Hoagland repeatedly refused to abide by the rules governing his attendance at this meeting – and completely showed his ass when council members attempted to enforce those rules. More importantly, he repeatedly refused to follow the lawful instructions of local police after the decision was made to remove him for disruption – and even worse, he actively resisted them as they attempted to lawfully remove him from the premises.

In other words, it was Hoagland – not Bluffton council members or police – who created this altercation.

I have no idea whether Hoagland has legitimate grievances against town leaders. He very well may. Bluffton and its government may very well be hopelessly corrupt – and if they are, this news outlet is more than willing to review evidence in support of that assertion. And expose them accordingly.

But Hoagland’s irrational bellicosity and baseless bullying has grown beyond tiresome – to the point it has completely undermined any good he ever did (or tried to do).

Hoagland was previously removed from a town council meeting on January 10, 2023.

Hoagland has been charged with disruption and faces a court hearing on April 18, 2023. According to reporter Rachel Hartdegan of Bluffton Today, he is refusing to attend that hearing – but plans on showing up at the next regularly scheduled meeting of town council on April 11, 2023.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Will Folks on phone
Will Folks (Brett Flashnick)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.

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