In statement, West Columbia Mayor Joe Owens refutes investigative report

WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Two split votes by West Columbia City Council approved $15,000 for an internal investigation on incidents and activities involving city officials and personnel.

That taxpayer money produced an eight-page report focused solely on accusations against Mayor Joe Owens, who was not one of the people interviewed during the investigation.

Owens sent an email refuting several of the accusations in the report and explaining his side of what happened. Council approved to contract Columbia attorney Robert Bolchoz in May to "review policies and procedures" for the City to ensure "efficient use" of taxpayer money and resources.

The report starts by praising the city for its committed staff and saying the city's policies and procedures are standard.

The remaining of the report outlines policy violations and acts of intimidation allegedly committed by Mayor Owens.

Bolchoz claimed in his report that an email was sent to each Council member and an in-person statement made in executive session, stating that he was available for individual meetings.

The attorney also wrote that he emailed Mayor Owens and his attorney to schedule a meeting.

Mayor Owens said that did not happen.

"Never talked to me. He said he sent me an email, I don't remember it," said Owens. "But they, by their own admission, is nothing there criminal. Just that I violated rules. I violated nobody. I've done what every mayor since I have ever been here has done. McKenridge, Bobby Horton. You're the mayor, you're the head of the government."

We called Bolchoz to ask some questions about the report, but he had no comment. His report said he conducted more than 30 interviews with city employees and four council members.

The report also said that he reviewed about five hours of recordings and videos for various incidents in the city.

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