County administrator resigns after electronic porn probe - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

County administrator resigns after electronic porn probe

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Phil Hinely confirms SLED wants his computer's hard drive and told WIS he plans to turn it over. Phil Hinely confirms SLED wants his computer's hard drive and told WIS he plans to turn it over.
Some of the emails from Fairfield County Administrator Phil Hinely's government email account. (Source: SLED) Some of the emails from Fairfield County Administrator Phil Hinely's government email account. (Source: SLED)
FAIRFIELD COUNTY, SC (WIS) -

Fairfield County Administrator Phil Hinely resigned Monday in the wake of a second State Law Enforcement Division probe into his use of his taxpayer-funded computer, according to a spokesperson for the county.

County Council plans to meet Wednesday to discuss Hinely's resignation.

The decision came hours after representatives from two political parties released a joint statement Monday calling for him to resign.

"Occasionally there are issues that transcend partisan divide, issues that are of such importance that they affect entire populations and entire communities," wrote Fairfield Democratic Party chairwoman Tangee B. Jacobs and Fairfield Republican Party chairman Kevin Thomas. "The ongoing issue of Fairfield County's Administrator Phil Hinely viewing and disseminating pornographic materials using a county computer, and Fairfield County's elected Council's failure to adequately deal with this embarrassment rises to that level."

"The Fairfield County Democrat Party and the Fairfield County Republican Party as well as prominent concerned citizens acting in a non-partisan manner call on Mr. Phil Hinely to resign or County Council to fire him," the statement continued. "We stand united together on this issue."

On Thursday, SLED told Hinely they would be taking a look at the hard drive on his computer. During a visit to his office, investigators told Hinely they would be back for his computer.

Hinely has been under scrutiny since a WIS investigation uncovered allegations that he had disseminated pornography from his county email account.

When asked what Hinely knew about the SLED agents' presence Thursday, he replied,"I don't know. They said they wanted to--I understand that Senator Coleman wanted them to come and look at the hard drive."

When he was asked if there was anything on the computer that he would be concerned with SLED seeing, Hinely responded, "Nothing on there I'd be concerned with my mother seeing."

Hinely was reprimanded by the Fairfield County Council, who voted to cut his nearly $131,000 salary by 5 percent, place him on probation through the end of the year, and order the county IT staff to monitor his email.

In February, SLED agents closed its first investigation into Hinely's county email account after agents got a string of emails from an informant. The emails were sent from Hinely's "fairfieldsc.com" account, which is a taxpayer provided account for all county employees.

The emails in the SLED file show that between July and December 2010, pornography files from Hinely's address contained photographs and videos. The SLED file shows 18 emails, all containing either pornographic pictures or videos.

WIS filed a Freedom of Information Act request to see Hinely's email records, but Hinely's attorney responded with a $29,395 bill in order to see those records.

SLED closed its case on Feb. 21 after finding all the actors in the pornography appeared to be above 18 years old.

"I'm catching hell from everybody," Hinely told WIS after council voted against him. Hinely continued to deny the allegations that he sent and received pornography via his county email account. Hinely said he had nothing to say to the people who lined up to speak out, "No, I can't convince them."

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