SC

Lowcountry Corruption Scandal: Interview With Lisa Lynch

The woman at the heart of Beaufort County’s ongoing governmental implosion speaks out …

Eight weeks ago, this news outlet filed its first report related to allegations of misconduct in office against Eric Greenway – the (now-former) administrator of one of South Carolina’s largest, wealthiest and most influential county governments.

Since then, this scandal has massively metastasized – resulting in Greenway’s termination as the top appointed bureaucrat for Beaufort County, a picturesque coastal Lowcountry region which is home to more than 200,000 people.

Our outlet previously reported the criminal investigation into Greenway – which is being run by the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and investigators in the office of S.C. first circuit solicitor David Pascoe – had uncovered “extensive misconduct” on the part of the terminated six-figured bureaucrat as well as multiple other county employees.

Since then, one of the other employees implicated in the scandal – deputy county administrator Whitney Richland – has reportedly resigned her position with the county.

Richland, our audience will recall, was linked to a controversial county purchase of nearly $36,000 worth of “weighted blankets” from a business with ties to her family. This dubious purchase – made with Greenway’s authorization – 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.

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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.”

Most recently, we have heard elected officials in the county could soon find themselves in the crosshairs of the probe – including one county council member who is allegedly conspiring with others to “cover tracks on wrongdoings and crimes” including rumored “land purchase deals, kickbacks, ghost purchases, overbids, no-bids and more.”

This council member is allegedly “covering for Greenway and concealing details” from their colleagues.

County council chairman Joseph Passiment has been a staunch Greenway ally, although our sources declined to say whether he was the elected official mixed up in the mushrooming criminal inquiry.

Details regarding several of these alleged improprieties has been provided to this news outlet. With the permission of our sources, we have forwarded this information to investigators as we continue our efforts to try and verify the allegations independently.

In other news, just yesterday The Island News reported Greenway, Richland and county parks and recreation director Shannon Loper were the focus of active S.C. State Ethics Commission (SCSEC) investigations based on complaints submitted to the agency last month.

According to response letters from SCSEC, all three complaints “contained facts sufficient to warrant an investigation.”

(Click to view)

Lisa Lynch (Provided)

In the meantime, as I have frequently noted, this scandal “might have been swept completely under the rug” were it not for Lisa Lynch – the county’s former wellness director.

Earlier this year, we obtained a Beaufort County sheriff’s office incident report (.pdf) which 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.

Late last month, Lynch accused Greenway of making multiple romantic advances toward her, which she rejected. After seeing Lynch at a social event with another man, Greenway then attacked her professionally – exacting retribution against her, her company and her professional associates, she said. Lynch also brought receipts to the table – namely text messages in which Greenway appeared to threaten her and others with retaliation after she appeared in public with her new boyfriend.

Prior to Lynch stepping forward, Greenway had merely been suspended with pay. After Lynch went public with her story, Greenway was terminated within forty-eight hours.

Lynch spoke to Beaufort council members earlier this month, decrying the “pervasive and systemic mistreatment of women” in county government. She’s not wrong about that, either, as two Beaufort leaders – including the current elected treasurer and the former county administrator – have pending sexual harassment lawsuits against the county.

Shortly after appearing before council, Lynch sat down with me for a wide-ranging interview covering her personal history with Greenway, her mistreatment at the hands of county leaders and the dilemma confronting so many women who are faced with such harassment in the workplace.

“It is not okay,” Lynch told me. “There’s no world in which this is okay – where women are treated as second-class citizens. There is no quid pro quo here where I give you a job and you have to marry me. No, it doesn’t work that way, Eric. No. And then I’m fired? No. And he gets to retire? And take his money with him? I’m sorry, it should not be okay. I’ve lost a lot here.”

Here in its entirety is my conversation with Lisa Lynch …

(Click to view)

FITSNews/ YouTube

“I’m not going away,” Lynch said. “I am going to speak for myself and for all women who have not been able to speak out.”

Lynch also singled out female enablers like Richland – whom she accused of harassing her for months, ostensibly at Greenway’s urging.

“It’s hard for me to think back that there were women who were doing the bidding (of) these men,” she said. “That’s even worse for me. There were others, but (Richland) was the worst.”

Earlier this month, 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.

Once again, this news outlet has previously submitted Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to Beaufort County for Greenway’s personnel file and for any complaints filed against him.

We are still awaiting the receipt of the information requested.

As for Greenway, he is scheduled to address county council at a public hearing on September 11, 2023.

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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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