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Lowcountry Corruption Scandal: ‘It’s Going To Be A Debacle’

Fired Beaufort bureaucrat demands an audience with county leaders …

Over the weekend, this news outlet published an update on the mushrooming government corruption scandal currently enveloping Beaufort County, South Carolina. As our report noted, the criminal misconduct in office investigation into former county administrator Eric Greenway has “snowballed” –  with investigators reportedly obtaining evidence of “extensive misconduct” on the part of the terminated six-figured bureaucrat as well as multiple other county employees.

One of the largest, wealthiest, fastest-growing counties in the Palmetto State, Beaufort is home to nearly 200,000 people. It’s also home to a government that cannot seem to stay out of trouble.

On Sunday – the day after our latest story dropped – local columnist David Lauderdale slammed “loosey goosey” county council leaders for their “slack oversight” and for struggling to regain control of their “most basic duties to the public.”

Lauderdale blasted the county’s recent decision to hire an outside firm to review its recent purchases, saying a council that “can’t keep up with that on its own is in way over its head.”

I concur … in fact, I recently referred to county leaders as “politically and governmentally immature.”

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“Greenway is the symptom, not the illness,” Lauderdale continued. “The illness is a tradition of inside wheeling and dealing, a lack of checks and balances, a free-for-all atmosphere that ignores the checks that are in place, and consistent, maddening secrecy.”

While agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and investigators in the office of S.C. first circuit solicitor David Pascoe probe this “maddening secrecy,” the county is reportedly on a collision course with the man at the center of its darkening storm.

According to our sources in county government, Greenway has demanded a public hearing to address the allegations against him – a hearing which has been scheduled for later this month (Monday, August 28, 2023).

County council leaders – including chairman Joseph Passiment, a former Greenway ally – were reportedly quite “annoyed” by Greenway’s demand for a public hearing. The chairman said as much, in fact, during a recent meeting of department leaders.

During this meeting, held on Tuesday afternoon, Passiment reminded county officials personnel matters were typically handled in executive session – insisting it was Greenway who had “demanded the hearing be held in public.”

“He said it is going to be a debacle,” a source familiar with the meeting confirmed to this outlet.

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RELATED | LOWCOUNTRY CORRUPTION SCANDAL EXPANDS

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Passiment also intimated big changes would be coming to the county in the coming weeks – but declined to elaborate.

“(Passiment) took no ownership whatsoever,” the source added. “He was very patronizing.”

What will Greenway say at his hearing? Will he implicate others? Will he implicate members of county council?

This news outlet will obviously keep close tabs on this hearing in light of the clear escalation of the criminal investigation into Greenway and other county officials.

Worth keeping in mind as the process unfolds? This scandal might have been swept completely under the rug were it not for Lisa Lynch – the county’s former wellness director.

As our audience will recall, a May 2023 Beaufort County sheriff’s office incident report (.pdf) obtained by this media outlet earlier this summer alleged misconduct in office involving Greenway between January 9, 2023 and May 11, 2023. We subsequently confirmed the initial date referenced in the report was tied to contractual dealings between Beaufort County and a company called Elementzal LLC – a company run by Lynch and her sister-in-law, Angie Hassinger.

(Click to view)

Lisa Lynch (Provided)

Late last month, Lynch accused Greenway of making multiple romantic advances toward her, which she rejected. Greenway then attacked Lynch professionally when she decided to enter into a relationship with another man, she alleged. Lynch also brought receipts to the table – namely text messages in which Greenway appeared to threaten her with retaliation after she appeared at a county function in May of this year with her new boyfriend.

Greenway’s termination came less than forty-eight hours after Lynch went public with her story.

Last week, Lynch offered to settle with the county for the amount owed to her under the law – along with her immediate reinstatement to the position of wellness director. Lawyers representing the county rebuffed her offer, according to Lynch’s attorney – Tim Lewis of Charleston, S.C.

It is not immediately clear whether Lynch has requested the same opportunity as Greenway to address council members publicly.

As we previously reported, deputy county administrator Whitney Richland – Greenway’s right-hand bureaucrat – has been referred to as a “person of interest” in connection with the ongoing investigation.

In April of 2023 the county purchased nearly $36,000 worth of “weighted blankets” from a family business tied to Richland. This dubious purchase is one of several irregular expenditures investigators are eyeing, according to my sources. “Many more” such expenses have been uncovered, a source close to the probe said.

Investigators have also reportedly heard from multiple witnesses who claim Greenway and Richland “threatened at least one other county employee who questioned their actions in regards to fiscal irregularities and/ or questionable financial transactions.”

Richland did not attend the Tuesday departmental meeting. Sources familiar with the situation have indicated she is on a multi-week “leave,” although they declined to discuss her status with the county.

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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

PGT Beauregard III Top fan August 9, 2023 at 1:07 pm

It is completely appropriate to hire an outside firm with the expertise to review expenditures. Perhaps you should familiarize yourself with Beaufort County’s form of government, and what the roles and responsibilities of individual County Council members are. They are not to review thousands upon thousands of invoices, injecting themselves into the day to day administration of government. It’s in the Constitution, look it up!

Reply
Ben Barnes Top fan August 10, 2023 at 6:21 am

Beaufort County government has always been a place of hidden agendas and back stabbing.

Reply
Jeffrey Borthick Top fan August 10, 2023 at 7:37 am

A “wellness director”??????

Reply
Tom Cooper Top fan August 10, 2023 at 8:28 am

I’ve said it a thousand times, Ashley Jacobs was on to all the corruption and was trying to clean it up. When the county council realized she was on to them, they fired her, citing “several anonymous complaints.” Ashley figured them out, and they could no longer hide at that point, so she had to go. Beaufort County is and will always be corrupt.

Reply

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