COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - After one of their own was charged with felony DUI over the weekend, members of the Richland County Council say they are deeply concerned about their colleague.
Councilman Kelvin Washington is out of jail on bond following the Saturday crash in Hopkins around 7:45 p.m. According to the South Carolina Highway Patrol, Washington rear-ended a vehicle in front of him. Two people were taken to a hospital, and one of them is in intensive care.
This is the second time Washington has been arrested in two months.The first time for tax charges where he pleaded guilty to three counts of failure to file a tax return.
Looking at his records, Washington has had several traffic violations in Richland County over the years; cited for speeding at least five times in an eight- year period. Unrelated to traffic offenses, according to the South Carolina State Ethics Commission, it appears Washington owes $75,100 for fines dating back to 2012.
On Sunday, Washington didn't say much as he was leaving Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center after bonding out Sunday afternoon.
After pleading guilty to tax charges, Washington was also removed from the Transportation Ad Hoc Committee, which oversees projects related to the Penny Tax.
Washington's recent actions have caused some citizens and colleagues to be concerned over his ability to do his job. Some are even questioning Washington's future on council.
"With his second arrest it's become abundantly clear that Mr. Washington has some issues at home that he needs to address," fellow Councilman Seth Rose said. "It's my personal opinion that he'd be better served and so would the citizens of Richland County if he focuses on addressing these issues at home and allow someone else to fulfill his Council duties. As for this horrible incident I'm praying for everybody that's been impacted."
Torrey Rush, chairman of Richland County Council, released a statement on Washington.
"It is our understanding Councilman Kelvin Washington was involved in a car accident and charged with felony DUI. As law enforcement continues its investigation and as we gather more facts I want us all to extend our prayers and thoughts to the victims in this situation. I want to ensure the public that this body and its individual members take this very seriously. Our collective responsibility to the public is compromised when such an event like this occurs. In the coming days we will continue to monitor this situation and rely on the law enforcement agencies investigating this matter."
Councilman Jim Manning tells WIS he agrees with the released statement. Councilman Norman Jackson declined to comment on the situation other than to say he believes council can move forward from this incident.
Meanwhile, Washington has not returned phone calls for a statement.
As for the future of Washington's position on County Council, according to South Carolina Code of Laws, (Section 8-1-100) Governor Nikki Haley can suspend an elected official if that person has been indicted. If convicted, she has the authority to removed the elected official.
State law requires, if convicted of felony DUI, Washington faces a fine of at least $5,100 and up to 15 years in prison. The Department of Motor Vehicles could suspend his license and Washington could be required to have an Ignition Interlock Device in his vehicle for three years.