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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Under intense fire from the most powerful arm of the state government, Department of Natural Resources Chairwoman Caroline Rhodes is defending herself.
On Tuesday, Orangeburg County Sen. Brad Hutto took to the Senate floor and called Rhodes a liar.
"I don't have any reaction to it," Rhodes said. "Everything I have said is true, and I stand by that."
Some senators accused Rhodes of lying under oath before the Senate Fish, Game, and Forestry Committee last week.
Rhodes' testimony dealt with a conversation she had with DNR Director John Frampton concerning a meeting over the Savannah River dredging permits.
Senators asked Rhodes whether Frampton was ordered to keep DNR staffers away from that meeting.
In sworn testimony, Sen. Vincent Sheheen questioned Rhodes if she told Frampton to tell DNR staffers not to talk about the port issue.
"I didn't direct Mr. Frampton to do anything about it," Rhodes said.
But emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act tell a different story. In a Dec. 7 email from Frampton to DNR staff, he tells them at Rhodes' request to "not have any staff" attend the Maritime Commission meeting.
Staffers questioned Frampton over the decision, but the director orders them: "don't go yourself."
"I don't know anything about that email," Rhodes said. "I didn't see it, haven't seen it, still haven't seen it."
We produced a copy of that email and gave it to Rhodes. The chairwoman spent several seconds looking over the email. She denied placing the directive to Frampton.
When asked if she thought Frampton was lying, Rhodes responded, "That would not be up to me to determine. I have been truthful."
Sen. Hutto believes Frampton would not have made anything up.
"I am absolutely convinced. If there's one thing I'm convinced of, is that Mr. Frampton did not attribute to the chair lady something she didn't ask him to do," Hutto said.
Rhodes plans to fight back at any attacks on her credibility.
"I'd repeat the same thing I said before: everything I said has been truthful," Rhodes said.
The Senate may censure Rhodes. The attorney general may also investigate if she lied under oath.
On Monday, Rhodes said she's not worried about an investigation because, according to her, she's done nothing wrong.