Deputy county administrator investigated for cronyism

BREAKING: Fairfield’s Deputy County Administrator placed on administrative leave

By Barbara Ball

WINNSBORO – Earlier today, Deputy County Administrator Davis Anderson was placed on administrative leave from his duties with the county, County Administrator Jason Taylor told The Voice during an interview.

“Until further notice, Mr. Anderson will be on paid leave while the investigation is ongoing,” Taylor said.
Taylor announced on Tuesday that the County has opened an internal investigation into a complaint of cronyism  involving Anderson and a subordinate with whom Anderson has a personal relationship.
The story will be updated as more information is available.
Read The Voice’s story Deputy county administrator investigated for cronyism that was published May 1 and in the Thursday, May 2, issue of The Voice.

Deputy county administrator investigated for cronyism

By Michael Smith

WINNSBORO – Fairfield County is looking into a complaint of cronyism lodged at its deputy county administrator and a subordinate.

Where the investigation will ultimately lead, though, has yet to be determined.

Anderson

County Administrator Jason Taylor confirmed on Tuesday that the County had opened an internal investigation that involves Deputy County Administrator Davis Anderson and a subordinate with whom Anderson has a personal relationship.

Specifically, the subordinate recently received a significant salary boost, Taylor said. He declined to specify the employee’s old and new salary, noting it falls below the $50,000 threshold set by the S.C. Freedom of Information Act that allows for the release of salary information for publicly funded department heads and anyone making over $50,000 a year.

However, Taylor did say the salary bump for the employee was in the neighborhood of $25,000 extra per year.

Taylor informed council members via email Tuesday that a number of complaints had recently been made against Anderson by private citizens to The Voice newspaper.

The newspaper’s publisher, Barbara Ball, questioned Taylor about the complaints on Friday, April 26, during a meeting at the newspaper’s Winnsboro office.

Taylor explained in his email that “most of the accusations were of a personal nature and do not involve the County,” but that “two of them did involve the County.”

While Taylor told The Voice on Friday that the County had received similar complaints from other sources, the accusations that were inquired about by The Voice involved the county. As deputy county administrator, Anderson had authority over all county departments for hiring, firing and salary adjustments.

“After review, one of the accusations was found not to have merit, and the other was of concern,” Taylor’s email stated. “Of the item of concern, we consulted with our human resource attorney, Ms. Linda Edwards, and based on her advice we have taken appropriate action.”

While Taylor did not detail what action was taken, he said Anderson will no longer be in charge of the county’s human resources department and will no longer have the authority to hire, fire or make salary adjustments for employees in any of the county’s departments as he did in the past.

Jennifer Leaphart, formerly the county human resources coordinator reporting to Anderson, will now serve as the director of human resources, according to a county memo issued on Tuesday.

Addressed to department heads, the memo directs staff to now forward all personnel related issues to Leaphart, who will then consult Taylor as needed.

Taylor said this is the procedure that he is immediately pursuing for all county departments.

“It’s very important that we be very respectful of taxpayer money and spend it appropriately,” Taylor said. “I don’t even want the perception of impropriety.”

Anderson couldn’t be reached for comment prior to press deadline.

Taylor said the county review is focused on not only the validity of issues raised in the complaints, but also the degree to which it impacts county business.

“Any time accusations are made in the county, we investigate [them] to see if they are justified, to see if they’re valid or if they’re invalid,” Taylor said. “That’s what we’re in the process of doing right now.”

Taylor said he anticipates the county will revise its nepotism policies since at present they only address relatives.

Further actions will depend upon what else the investigation finds, Taylor said.