Leaders of Beaufort County, South Carolina have called an emergency meeting of their county council to address an escalating scandal involving the county’s top appointed bureaucrat.
Or at least to address it amongst themselves …
The emergency meeting will be held in council chambers (100 Ribaut Road) in Beaufort, S.C. this coming Monday – July 24, 2023 – at 10:30 a.m. EDT. Unfortunately, the bulk of this gathering is slated to take place behind closed doors in so-called “executive session.”
Take a look …
(Click to view)
(Via: Beaufort County)
The agenda for this secretive session is purportedly so council members can “receive legal advice on matters covered by the attorney-client privilege and to discuss issues related to the employment of a person regulated by council.”
Sources familiar with the situation say the “person” referenced in the agenda is Beaufort County administrator Eric Greenway. As this news outlet previously reported, Greenway is staring down the business end of a criminal misconduct investigation. He has yet to be charged with any wrongdoing, nor have any details of the investigation been made public by law enforcement, prosecutors or any of the eleven elected politicians whose duty it is to govern his administration of the county. This climate of secrecy has stoked criticism of council members – criticism emanating both from Greenway’s shrinking band of supporters and the swelling ranks of his detractors.
So far, all we know is a decision was made by sheriff PJ Tanner in consultation with S.C. fourteenth circuit solicitor Duffie Stone to move forward with an investigation following an initial review of “activities that may constitute misconduct by Eric Greenway.”
To avoid any conflicts of interest, Greenway’s case has been referred to the office of S.C. first circuit solicitor David Pascoe for review. Pascoe was briefed last week on the allegations against Greenway, sources familiar with the situation confirmed to this news outlet. His office has yet to comment on the case beyond acknowledging the receipt of a referral for investigation.
What did Greenway allegedly do?
All we know from the incident report (.pdf) is that the alleged misconduct involving Greenway took place between January 9, 2023 and May 11, 2023. Since then, our media outlet has learned the start date referenced in the report could refer to a contract between Beaufort County and a company called Elementzal LLC.
Sources familiar with the complaint say a “relationship” between Greenway and one of the leaders of this company – Lisa Hassinger Lynch – is part of the investigation. The nature of this relationship has not been described to us in detail, other than to say it reportedly went south sometime in May of this year.
(Click to view)
In addition to the ongoing law enforcement and prosecutorial inquiry, council members have reportedly conducted “their own investigation” into Greenway.
“They found a lot,” a source close to that probe told us late Friday, describing the makings of a “slam dunk” case against the administrator. The problem? No one in county government – which remains under Greenway’s day-to-day control – seems to have any idea how council members will handle the information they have received.
Specifically, it is not immediately clear whether council intends to share the findings of its investigation with law enforcement – or take any action involving Greenway independent of the ongoing criminal inquiry.
Once again, to be perfectly clear: Greenway has not been implicated in any criminal activity or other wrongdoing at this time. Assuming the forthcoming investigation were to produce credible allegations of misconduct, it would then be up to a grand jury to determine whether probable cause existed to charge him criminally – at which point he would avail himself of our criminal justice system.
And of course, as is our custom, this media outlet’s microphone is always open to him and his allies in the event they wish to address our audience regarding any of the allegations against him.
A former staffer to Democratic congressman John Spratt, Greenway was tapped by Beaufort’s elected council to lead the county on an interim basis in November 2020. Seven months later, he was unanimously chosen to take over the position on a permanent basis. At the time, council chairman Joseph Passiment praised Greenway for bringing “stability, increased morale and … a depth and breadth of knowledge and experience” to the post.
Home to more than 200,000 people, Beaufort is one of South Carolina’s most affluent, fastest-growing counties. Unfortunately, it is also among its most politically and governmentally immature – as its local leaders are currently demonstrating.
Beaufort needs to come clean with its governmental drama, not hide behind closed doors. Fairness to the public – and for that matter, to Greenway – requires nothing less.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
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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