Orangeburg Co. Public Works Director faces ethics investigation

Published: Oct. 16, 2023 at 10:23 PM EDT
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ORANGEBURG COUNTY, Sc. (WIS) - Orangeburg County’s public works director is facing an ethics investigation for using county property for personal gain.

WIS has obtained records showing Public Works Director Henry Summers is under investigation by the State Ethics Commission for a March 2023 incident where he brought county equipment and personnel home to fix his driveway and a 2017 incident where he used the county auto shop to work on his personal car.

A WIS Investigation uncovered an Orangeburg County human resources memo over the incidents this July, showing Summers confessed to both incidents.

The county suspended Summers a week without pay.

The commission has the power to levy fines after the case has made its way through the system. Any criminal charges would be handled by the Attorney General’s Office.

County Administrator Harold Young declined to comment on the investigation at the time, stating it’s a personnel matter.

WIS submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the county for all investigative records related to the Summers incidents in the county’s possession.

The county only provided the memo.

There are no detailed records of Young’s conversation with Summers, any records of interviews with other staff, or any investigation into the misuse of county property in the intervening years.

WIS has no evidence of any other misuses of county property.

Young again declined an interview request.  WIS’s attempts to contact Summers have been unsuccessful.

Former Orangeburg County employee Shawn Simmons filmed Summers in 2023 and supplied Young with the 2017 photos.

“I think they are just kind of brushing it under the rug,” Simmons said.

He provided WIS photos showing he’s filed an ethics complaint against Summers with the South Carolina Ethics Commission. Simmons also provided photo of the commission’s response, dated Sept. 22, stating the complaint warrants an investigation.

“They were very interested in what I had to say,” he said.

Simmons said he has worked to arrange for other whistleblowers to speak with the commission.

He said he has also contacted SLED.

Neither SLED nor the commission have responded to WIS’s request for comment.

It remains unclear how much money the misuse of county equipment and personnel cost taxpayers.

Summers’ personnel file show no other reprimands from the county.

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