More questions dog McKie filings

Lobbyist Income Report Doesn’t Match SEI Filing, Investigation Reels in 19 More Late Filings

Richland Two School Board memberes include Cheryl Caution-Parker, left, Chairwoman Amelia McKie, Jim Manning, James Shadd III, Lindsay Agostini, Monica Elkins-Johnson and new member Teresa Holmes. | Richland Two Website

BLYTHEWOOD – As the deadline to pay a hefty ethics fine nears, more questions are arising over reports filed by Amelia McKie, chairwoman of the Richland Two Board of Trustees.

Meantime, more previously unfiled ethics forms have been submitted by another Richland Two board member following an investigation by The Voice of campaign finance violations, according to public records.

The latest issues involving McKie revolve around lobbying activity reported on her 2015 and 2016 Statements of Economic Interest, or SEI, forms.

McKie’s SEI form for 2016 doesn’t list any lobbying activity or income.

However, on her Individual Lobbyist report, McKie reported earning $13,562.50 as a lobbyist for the S.C. Association of Developing Colleges, or SCADC, between Jan. 1, 2016 and May 31, 2016,

Her 2015 forms don’t match either.

In 2015, McKie reported $15,000 in lobbying income from the SCADC on her economic interest form. But her lobbyist report lists a year-to-date number of $27,125.

In addition, $2,000 in lobbying income from the Coalition for Access to Healthcare appears on her individual lobbyist report, but not her SEI form.

McKie couldn’t be reached for comment.

In response to inquiries from The Voice, McKie filed previously missing SEI forms for 2015-2018 on Dec. 4, according to Ethics Commission records.

As of Friday, Dec. 28, she still hadn’t filed quarterly campaign disclosure reports since early 2015, ethics records show.

The commission has already fined McKie $41,000 as part of an eight-count complaint alleging unreported campaign contributions dating back to 2015.

She had until Dec. 31 to pay the first $20,000. If she misses that deadline, the fine increases to $51,700. That information was not available to The Voice at press time.

In related news, board member Monica Elkins-Johnson filed a slew of outstanding quarterly campaign finance reports and amendments on Thursday, Dec. 27, nearly two months after the Nov. 6 general election, according to the S.C. Ethics Commission online database.

Elkins-Johnson joins fellow board members Teresa Holmes, Cheryl Caution-Parker and McKie among those who filed missing ethics forms only after being contacted by The Voice.

The Richland Two school board plays a direct role in developing the district’s annual budget, which for the 2017-2018 fiscal year totaled $273.9 million, according to the school district website.

Because Richland Two board members are entrusted with spending millions of dollars in taxpayer money, greater scrutiny of their ethics filings is appropriate, said Jay Bender, a media law attorney representing the S.C. Press Association.

“You have all these people who take office who pay no attention what the requirements are, and that’s unfortunate,” Bender said.

Since The Voice’s investigation began in early December, Richland Two candidates have rushed to file at least 19 tardy ethics forms, detailing previously unreported campaign contributions, income sources and potential conflicts of interest.

Here’s a breakdown of each board member’s campaign contributions and statements of economic interest, when available, for recent election cycles.

Amelia McKie

On her 2018 SEI form, McKie reported $15,000 in income from lobbying activity for NextEra, a Florida-based energy company that recruited people to lobby the state to sell Santee Cooper, ethics forms state.

She performed additional consulting work for Infusion and LHI, though ethics forms don’t list income from those sources.

In addition to lobbying activity, McKie reported $9,600 in annual income from her position as school board chair.

McKie’s most recent quarterly campaign disclosure report was filed Jan. 10, 2015, ethic filings show.

She filed two amendments, one on Jan. 11, 2015 and the other Feb. 10, 2015.

Her Jan. 10, 2015 disclosure form, filed two months after the Nov. 4, 2014 general election, reported $10,861.95 in total contributions. She spent $9,524.41, leaving $1,337.54 cash on hand.

One contribution, a $1,000 donation from the Lou-Von Family Foundation in Sumter, was returned at the donor’s request, ethics forms state.

Though nearly four years old, an amendment McKie filed to her campaign disclosure reports in February 2015 raises additional questions.

In that filing, McKie lists 889.5 miles driven by various Columbia vendors for Get Out the Vote-related work, totaling $498.72 in mileage expenses at 56 cents a mile. The expenses were incurred on four dates in 2014: Nov. 3, Nov. 21, Dec. 11 and Dec. 22.

It is unclear from the forms what would require driving 890 miles in four days – roughly 222.5 miles per day – in the Columbia area.

James Shadd III

Board member James Shadd III has experienced issues with his ethics forms since 2014, when the ethics commission fined him $13,000 for failing to file several quarterly campaign disclosure reports, documents state.

The complaint has since been resolved, according to the ethics commission website. More recently, Shadd III hasn’t filed quarterly campaign disclosure or SEI reports since October 2016, according to ethics filings.

The absent filings only pertain to his school board seat. Quarterly reports for his 2014 solicitor’s office bid are available for public inspection.

Shadd III couldn’t be reached for comment.

In 2016, the last year Shadd III filed an SEI form, he only listed his school board trustee position, but not his income. He didn’t report any lobbying activity or any other potential conflicts of interest.

Shadd III filed three campaign disclosure reports in 2016, all on Oct. 31 of that year, which included his initial report, October quarterly report and his pre-election report.

He reported $10,375 in contributions for the election cycle, mostly from attorneys, physicians and other individual professionals. He spent $7,244.88.

Monica Elkins-Johnson

In all, Elkins-Johnson filed 14 previously missing quarterly campaign disclosure forms last week on Dec. 27, 2018, some of them dating back to 2016, according to ethics records.

One of the filings was a final campaign disclosure report for her 2016 campaign.

The report listed $12,860.52 in total contributions, most of which came from personal funds ($7,341). Most other contributions came from individual donors, filings show.

Elkins’ SEI forms have been filed on time most years. Her 2018 SEI report only listed $9,600 in income for her school board seat.

Teresa Holmes

Most of Holmes’ campaign contributions before the 2018 election come from personal funds.

For the 2018 election cycle, she reported $3,683.94 in contributions, of which $3,183 came from her personally, ethics records show.

The remaining $500 consisted of a donation from Sam Green, whose occupation is listed in ethics records as bishop of the 7th Episcopal District.

After the election, Holmes filed two amendments on Dec. 10 and Dec. 12, respectively amending her pre-election and initial reports to include additional contributions and expenditures.

As before, contributions mainly consisted of personal loans and small, individual donations.

Like McKie, Holmes filed her 2018 SEI forms after she was informed by The Voice that they had not been filed.

On her SEI form, Holmes reported $83,000 in personal income from the Fairfield County School District. She’s an assistant administrator and guidance counselor at the Fairfield Career and Technology Center, the Richland Two website states.

Cheryl Caution-Parker

Caution-Parker filed her four 2018 quarterly campaign disclosure reports on Dec. 17, shortly after The Voice contacted her that the forms hadn’t been filed prior to the Nov. 6 election.

Caution-Parker previously told The Voice that she had correctly entered the information, but didn’t complete the submission process because she failed to click the “File” button.

Her October 2018 pre-election report listed $5,150 in contributions and $5,129 in expenditures. She reported two contributions from developers: M.B. Kahn Construction Co., $1,000; and Stevens & Wilkinson, $250.

Caution-Parker spent the bulk of her funds on billboard advertising and campaign signs.

James Manning

Manning filed his quarterly campaign disclosure and SEI forms on time.

While it was previously reported that these fillings were late, most of his campaign disclosure reports are associated with the 2014 election cycle. Only a pre-election report filed Oct. 28, 2018 is associated with the 2018 election cycle, records state.

Manning said that’s because he announced his intentions to seek re-election late in the election cycle, which explains why his other quarterly reports are linked to 2014.

For the 2014 election cycle, Manning reported $9,198.76 in total contributions.

Manning reported an additional $7,775 in contributions for 2018. Notable donations for the most recent election cycle include: M.B. Kahn Construction, Co., $1,000; Brownstone Construction Group, LLC, $1,000; Darrell Campbell, construction, $500; and Grayson Thompson, architect, $300.

Manning reported $118,737 in personal income from working in state government. He works for the S.C. Public Employee Benefits Authority as a risk and compliance manager, according to the state’s online salary database.

Manning reported additional family income of $69,289, also from state government, and his $9,600 school board salary.

Lindsay Agostini

Besides Manning, Agostini was the only other current board member to file all her Campaign Disclosure and SEI forms on time.  As reported previously in The Voice, Agostini hasn’t been required to file quarterly campaign disclosure reports since March 24, 2017, when according to ethics records, she submitted a final report.

Office holders may file final reports only after he or she closes their campaign account, which is what Agostini did, according to the Ethics Commission.

To qualify for this exemption, a candidate must have a zero balance and no outstanding campaign debts, according to the Ethics Commission websit, which Agostini met.

When her campaign accounts were open, Agostini was one of the school board’s top fundraisers. Her final report listed $22,947 in total contributions for the 2016 election cycle.

Contributions mainly came from attorneys, physicians and other business professionals. She spent the bulk of her funds on mailers and signage, records show.

On her 2018 SEI form, Agostini reported board member pay of $9,600 and various food and gas reimbursements totaling $1,146.89.

Under personal income, she listed Agostini and Associates as the source and event planner/swim lessons under the type. A dollar amount was not specified.

Agostini also listed 11 sources of family income, which include DaVinci Financial Designs, LPL, Midland Insurance, The Members Club, Washington & Lee University, Pomona College and other entities.

Craig Plank

Craig Plank, who did not win re-election to the board in November, but has filed all his forms on time during his time on the board, reported $13,090 in contributions this past election cycle, which included $2,100 from personal funds. He spent $9,483.85, mostly on advertising and direct mailing, records state.

Most of Plank’s donors consisted of individual business professionals, including several insurance agents.

Plank reported several contributions from developers: SC Builders PAC, $250; Stevens & Wilkinson SC, Inc., $250; Covert Homes, LLC, $250; LCK, LLC, $500; and M.B. Kahn Construction Co., $1,000.

On his 2018 SEI form, Plank reported a $12,000 stipend from the district.

Plank also reported receiving unspecified income from four sources: WIS TV, family income; State Farm Insurance Co., personal income; Millie Lewis of Columbia, personal income; and NFIP, personal income.