County committee may have violated FOIA

WINNSBORO – Last week, in apparent violation of open meeting laws, the county’s economic development committee met to discuss water and sewer infrastructure without providing proper public notice.

All three committee members – Council Chairman Moses Bell and council members Tim Roseborough and Shirley Greene – participated.

Also attending were Brad Caulder, interim county administrator; Ty Davenport, economic development director; and Charles Boykin, county attorney, according to sources familiar with the meeting.

State law requires government agencies to provide 24 hours public notice of all meetings, including meetings of committees and subcommittees, as well as an agenda.

Section 30-40-80 states agendas, “must be posted on a bulletin board in a publicly accessible place at the office or meeting place of the public body and on a public website maintained by the body.”

No public notice or agenda for a September meeting of the economic development committee appeared on the county website as of Monday. The most recent public notice and agenda were published July 12, according to the website.

The S.C. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) further defines a meeting as “the convening of a quorum of the constituent membership of a public body,” and is “not limited to instances where action is taken.”

The S.C. Attorney General’s Office has also affirmed that committees and subcommittees must provide public notice.

“Our courts as well as this Office have consistently found that any committee formed by a public body to give advice or conduct any other governmental function is a public body and subject to FOIA,” an August 26, 2019 opinion states.

Nothing was said about the secret Fairfield committee meeting during Monday night’s regular County Council meeting.

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