Report alleges misconduct by West Columbia mayor

WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) - A report made public on Tuesday alleges West Columbia mayor Joe Owens abused his power and intimidated people who didn't back his plans.

The report, put together by Columbia lawyer Robert Bolchoz, who served as independent investigator in the case, was based on audio recordings, city records and more than two dozen interviews with city employees.

The eight-page document obtained by WACH Fox News, claims Owens threatened people's jobs if they didn't support his agenda and showed a pattern of misconduct.

Owens, who has been at odds with city council members for months, has called the report a hatchet job put together by his political enemies.

Earlier this year, city council stripped Owens of his control over meetings and the council's agenda. Since then, Owens has collected petition signatures from residents pushing for a vote to determine the city's form of government. He proposes switching to a strong mayor form of government which would transfer considerable power to the mayor's office.

Last month, West Columbia city council voted to allow that issue to be decided by voters in a special election this fall.

On Wednesday, a group called West Columbia United called on voters to consider the findings of the report before casting their votes.

"The proper leadership needs to be in place and the proper form of government," said group member Bruce Brutschy. "So we look forward to taking these action steps, getting our message across, educating our fellow constituents, and making this city great."

West Columbia voters head to the polls on September 30 to vote on the city's form of government.