From our News Partners at WCBD-TV:
Moncks Corner, SC -
A Berkeley County School District official has been indicted on an ethics charge revolving around a school referendum.
Amy Kovach, Communications Director for the district, was indicted Tuesday afternoon by a Berkeley County Grand Jury. She has been charged with using public office to influence an election.
The issue revolved around the Yes 4 Schools referendum Berkeley County was trying to pass back in 2012. Taxpayers tell News 2 they began to get concerned when school leaders began allegedly misleading them about much the referendum would cost them.
"Being a former board member and knowing what they were doing at some of the meetings, we felt like they were outside the bounds of the state ethics laws," Terry Hardesty said.
Hardesty and a small group of Berkeley County residents began investigating the school district officials. After realizing there was a potential for ethics violations, they met with Attorney General Alan Wilson who decided SLED should investigate.
"I had read about 2500 emails, and I was convinced at that point in time and I knew they had violated the law," Hardesty said.
News 2 obtained copies of those emails in which Kovach said she couldn't get to work other district business because she claims she was working 15 to 16 hours a day on the referendum.
At the Berkeley County School Board meeting Tuesday night, Kovach was not in attendance.
The Board Chairman, Dr. Kent Murray released this statement which said:
We learned this afternoon that a district employee has been charged with a misdemeanor for use of public funds to influence a ballot measure. The employee is currently on administrative leave with pay. Because this remains an on going legal and personnel matter, we are unable to comment further at this time.
Superintendent Rodney Thompson and Deputy Superintendent, Archie Franchini, have also been at the center of this investigation. Both were at Tuesday night's meeting but did not comment on the case.
Members of the school board went into executive session for nearly two hours Tuesday night, but the details of that meeting were not released. A school board member did say they were planning to discuss the case further.
A spokesperson for the Attorney General's office would not comment about the potential for more indictments. He could only say that the investigation is still on-going.
Hardesty said he is still concerned that the issue didn't end with Kovach because the district, he claims, is paying the attorney's fees for all three officials involved.
"The board at this point in time after somebody has been indicted better look take a serious look at what they're doing," he said. "They've been paying for council for these three people and I think that's another violation of their office."
Kovach has been suspended without pay.
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