SC governor says county councilman out of job after tax plea
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP/WACH) -- Gov. Nikki Haley says a county councilman recently sentenced for failing to report nearly half a million dollars in income is out of a job.
In an executive order obtained by The Associated Press, Haley declared vacant the Richland County Council seat held by Kelvin Washington.
Washington was charged in January with failing to report almost $427,000 in income over three years, stemming from a state investigation into county use of local sales tax money.
State law says the governor can declare public positions vacant if officeholders are convicted of crimes involving "moral turpitude." Prosecutors say in an attorney general's opinion that Washington's tax crimes meet that standard.
Washington was sentenced to probation and fines. The county councilman is also facing felony DUI charges following pleading guilty to not paying his taxes.
Washington is accused of crashing into another vehicle under the influence. The crash left one man in serious condition.
Richland County Council Chairman issued the following statement Wednesday afternoon:
"It is our understanding Councilman Kelvin Washington was removed from office by the Governor effective today.
We respect the decision power of the Governor's Office and will work diligently as a Council to further represent and respond to the needs of the citizens of District 10 and this County.
I want to ensure the public that this body and its individual members take this matter very seriously.
Our collective responsibility to the public is our priority and we will continue to work for the Citizens of Richland County.
In the coming days, information involving the special election for the District 10 seat will be released."
Following the announcement that Washington's seat was vacated, his mother in-law Bernice Scott filed to run for the open seat Wednesday.
Hopkins native Helen Taylor Bradley also filed for the District 10 seat.
A primary election will take place May 31 with any necessary runoffs happening June 14 and the special election taking place July 19.
WACH FOX has reached out to Washington's attorney and we have not yet received any comments on the governor's action to remove him.