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Lowcountry Administrator Removed From Office Amid Scandal

One down … many to go?

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Just four days after he was placed on administrative leave with pay, the top bureaucrat in one of South Carolina’s largest, wealthiest and fastest growing counties was unceremoniously fired from his position on Friday morning.

At another closed-door emergency session of Beaufort County’s elected council, county administrator Eric Greenway was removed from office “effective immediately.” Greenway was terminated from his $210,000-a-year position “with cause,” and will be replaced on an interim basis by the county’s public safety administrator, John Robinson.

Greenway’s termination comes less than forty-eight hours after a woman he is alleged to have sexually harassed – and targeted for retaliation when his overtures were rebuffed – went public with her story.

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Council members – including staunch Greenway supporter Joseph Passiment – emerged from a seventy-five minute “executive session” at approximately 11:45 a.m. EDT to announce Greenway’s termination. They did not provide the public with any of their reasons for the decision, saying the matter was a “personnel” issue and they had been advised by their attorneys “not to discuss it until a later date.”

As our regular audience is well aware, Greenway is at the heart of two investigations. The first is a criminal misconduct in office probe which was exclusively reported by this news outlet earlier this month. That inquiry is currently in the hands of S.C. first circuit solicitor David Pascoe, who is determining whether to proceed with criminal charges against Greenway.

According to a Beaufort County sheriff’s office incident report we obtained (.pdf), the alleged misconduct involving Greenway took place between January 9, 2023 and May 11, 2023.

The second line of inquiry is a county investigation into a myriad of alleged misappropriations tied to Greenway in his capacity as administrator – and alleged misappropriations and misconduct involving other county officials.

“Eric Greenway isn’t the only one going down,” one county source told me pointedly as news of the termination began to spread.

As we reported on Wednesday, former Beaufort County wellness director Lisa Lynch went public with the details of her experiences with Greenway – who has held the top appointed post in the county since November 2020.

Lynch and her sister-in-law – Angie Hassinger – were employed by the county on a contract basis through their company, Elementzal LLC. Elementzal was incorporated with the S.C. Secretary of State’s office on December 15, 2022 and provided an “opioid public education and marketing campaign” on behalf of the county in early 2023.

(Click to View)

Lisa Lynch (Provided)

In addition to her work on the opioid campaign, Lynch was hired as Beaufort County’s director of wellness on April 17, 2023. Greenway announced her hiring via an email to county employees touting her “wealth of experience in the field of wellness.” 

“I met Eric Greenway socially in 2022,” Lynch said in a written statement (.pdf) provided exclusively to this news outlet. “He pursued a romantic relationship with me, and I agreed to a couple of dates with him. While flattered by his affection, I was not interested in that kind of connection, and I made it clear to him we could be friends but not romantically involved. Close to the end of 2022, Greenway expressed interest in hiring me to work for Beaufort county in a healthcare position. I rebuked his offer many times. He was undeterred and after months working as an outside health consultant with the county, Greenway made an offer that I was unable to refuse.”

This news outlet obtained a copy of a text message from Greenway to Lynch dated April 6, 2023 in which he stated “I’ve created this job for you.”

“I want this for you about as much as you do so please feel the freedom to reach out to me anytime you have a concern,” Greenway wrote in the message (.jpg).

According to Lynch, it didn’t take long for Greenway to change his tune toward her, however.

“Just two weeks into my tenure with the county, I attended a party with my significant other,” Lynch continued in her statement. “Greenway was also in attendance. He was openly agitated and made it clear that my act of bringing my boyfriend to a social event was offensive to him. After he left the party, Greenway sent a string of emails and text messages directly threatening me and my livelihood. He financially threatened my family and professional associates as well. I was shocked by the behavior.”

One text message sent by Greenway on the evening of Saturday May 6, 2023 to Lynch tells her to “be aware of what you gave up tonight and what this will cost you.”

The message tells Lynch to “have fucking fun because you are now just an employee of Beaufort County and I’ve lost all trust and affinity for you!”

Take a look …

(Click to View)

Text message from Eric Greenway to Lisa Lynch on May 6, 2023. (Provided)

Lynch said she expressed her “distress” to county managers and was “assured that the matter would be handled.” She also submitted a “formal complaint of discrimination and retaliation” to county government.

“The complaint was investigated, and, despite the open threats, no wrongdoing was found on Greenway’s part,” Lynch said.

That shouldn’t surprise longtime members of our audience. Current Beaufort treasurer Maria Walls and former county chief financial officer Alicia Holland have both filed lawsuits against the county related to harassment they allegedly endured while discharging their official duties as public servants.

Earlier this month, our news outlet submitted Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to Beaufort County for Greenway’s personnel file and for any complaints filed against him. As of this writing, the county has yet to respond to our requests.

As noted in our previous coverage, several of Greenway’s allies (and alleged enablers) now find themselves very squarely under the microscope – both for their accommodation of his alleged harassment as well as reportedly benefiting from dubious disbursements of taxpayer funds. For example, this news outlet has learned of a controversial county purchase for $36,000 worth of weighted blankets from a family business tied to deputy county administrator Whitney Richland.

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Invoice for payment of $35,644.70 submitted to Beaufort County government. (Provided)

The blanket contract is one of several invoices routed to Greenway which have raised concern – and is reportedly among the disbursements receiving fresh scrutiny in the wake of the county’s recent decision to conduct a multi-pronged review of its finances.

On Monday of this week, county leaders announced their intention to hire an outside firm to conduct “a thorough review of all purchases that have occurred since January 1, 2023, to confirm that those purchases comply with the County’s procurement codes, to identify any purchases that do not comply with County’s procurement codes, to bring to Council those that do not comply, and to provide a description of the discrepancies.”

A similar review will be conducted “of all contracts for professional services which the County has entered into since January 1, 2023,” and an audit is being undertaken of the County’s P-Card system for the fiscal years 2019-2020, 2020-2021, 2021-2022, and 2022-2023.”

This investigation is “likely to ensnare others in county administration,” sources close to the inquiry have told this news outlet.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

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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4 comments

Frank July 28, 2023 at 6:25 pm

“Greenway’s termination comes less than forty-eight hours after a woman he is alleged to have sexually harassed – and targeted for retaliation when his overtures were rebuffed – went public with her story.”

Wow, if his name were Donald Trump none of you guys would care, because “they let you do it.”

Reply
Anonymous July 28, 2023 at 10:56 pm

Why are tax payers paying for a “director of wellness”? What exactly is this position for? What is the department of health for? Give that money to the public schools or something truly beneficial to the county like preservation of wilderness and waterways or something.

Reply
rpinck Top fan July 29, 2023 at 8:14 am

What a damn shame! Eric Greenway always was an advocate for Daufuskie Island, one of only two inhabited islands on our coast not connected to the rest of the world by a bridge. At last count, the county collected $7,000,000 worth of property taxes from Daufuskie but typically gets very little of it back. Eric kept the island from being overrun by short-tern rentals and kept our county-subsidized ferry running despite considerable difficulties and we remain grateful for that.

Reply
J Monday Top fan July 29, 2023 at 12:08 pm

Intimidating & threatening someone into dating you is always a good way to go. It helps to build the foundation for a healthy, long term relationship…no, wait. No matter what good he has done with his career to this point, it is forever tarnished if not over. He needs professional help.

Reply

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