Chairman Cleared of Ethics Charges

Three Others Pay Fines

WINNSBORO – Allegations of official wrongdoing by Fairfield County Council Chairman David Ferguson were formally dismissed by the S.C. State Ethics Commission last week. The Commission also dismissed seven of 11 counts levied against Councilman Mikel Trapp, with the District 3 Councilman paying a $500 fine for the remaining charges. Two other Council members also officially resolved their cases with the Commission by paying fines, according to Consent Orders that were posted to the Ethics Commission website Monday.

Ferguson was issued a Notice of Hearing last January after the Ethics Commission found probable cause that the District 5 Councilman had allegedly used his office to obtain an economic interest for himself by vacationing in County funded lodging following the conclusion of the annual S.C. Association of Counties’ summer conference in Hilton Head. The four counts against Ferguson covered July of 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. The Ethics Commission dismissed the charges “because Fairfield County incurred no additional expenses for a longer rental period of resort property” following the conclusion of the conferences, Commission documents state.

“I didn’t have any doubt about it to begin with,” Ferguson said, “because I didn’t do anything wrong. I followed protocol and what the County has done for years and years. If I had thought there was anything wrong, I certainly wouldn’t have done it.”

Trapp was fined and issued a written warning for misstating his County income on Statement of Economic Interest (SEI) forms in 2011, 2012 and 2013. The Commission called Trapp’s violation “inadvertent.” Trapp was also accused of “knowingly using his official office to obtain an economic interest for a family member when he voted to allocate” funds “to his sister-in-law’s employer, CIC, Inc.” Trapp’s notice of hearing stated that the allocations came on July 1, 2011; July 7, 2011; July 10, 2012; and July 15, 2013. The amounts allegedly allocated were: $2,500 on July 1, 2011; $1,234 on July 7, 2012; $3,500 on July 10, 2012; and $2,500 on July 15, 2013. Those charges were dismissed, as were allegations that Trapp had also overstepped boundaries during his stay on Hilton Head in July of 2010, 2011 and 2013.

Vice Chairman Dwayne Perry was accused in March of three counts of misstating income on his SEI forms, from 2011 to 2013. Commission documents state that Perry reported $23,382 on his 2011 SEI, but had received $24,649.92. Perry reported $26,492.92 on his 2012 SEI, but received $27,467.92; and on his 2013 SEI, Perry reported $25,910.82 but received $27,583.92, according to Commission documents. The Ethics Commission also defined Perry’s violations as “inadvertent,” and levied a written warning and a $375 fine against the District 1 Councilman.

Councilman Kamau Marcharia also received his Notice of Hearing in March for one count of misstating Fairfield County income on his 2013 SEI. Commission documents state that Marcharia reported $16,000 on his SEI, but received $18,643.04. The Ethics Commission also called the District 4 Councilman’s violation “inadvertent” and issued a $125 fine and a written warning.

All three fines have been paid, the Ethics Commission said Monday. The Commission said that a Consent Order was expected soon for Councilwoman Mary Lynn Kinley. Kinley was issued a Notice of Hearing in January for four counts of overstaying her time on Hilton Head during the Association conferences from 2010 through 2013, as well as for two counts of failure to disclose County income. Complaints against Councilman David Brown and Councilwoman Carolyn Robinson are still pending.

“This was petty,” Ferguson said. “It was something done intending to hurt someone’s reputation and that was all. Now that we’ve got an answer back, we can get back to County business and get away from all this stuff that is trivial.”

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