A Surfside Beach councilman is accused of undue influence to help a friend and he may face another penalty by S.C. State Ethics Commission.
Randle Stevens is accused of asking the town’s construction appeals board to grant a friend a ruling regarding fill dirt.
The complaint has been filed by Steve Shore, a town resident. Shore said councilman Stevens attended a town construction board of appeals meeting on Jan. 22, 2018.
“He attended and spoke as a Surfside Beach Councilman and encouraged the members of the Appeals Board to grant an appeal to his friend who had an issue with the Town of Surfside Beach specifically [sic], a decision made by a Certified Building Official regarding fill dirt,” Shore wrote.
Stevens’ intent, he continued in the complaint, was to influence the Appeals Board to “do the right thing.”
The appellant was ultimately successful.
“I consider Council Member Stevens actions [sic] an abuse of power,” the complaint said.
A letter sent to Stevens by the commission states the committee, after looking into the complaint, has determined “probable cause exists to support the alleged violation.”
A hearing on the matter will take place on May 16 in Columbia.
Last year, the commission chose to levy a $2,150 fine against Stevens for violating ethics laws in connection with a 2016 town council general election.
The violations were accepting an anonymous campaign contribution of truck wrap signage, failing to file a pre-election campaign disclosure report in a timely fashion and failure to disclose two in-kind contributions and two in-kind expenditures.
Stevens’ appeal will be heard in Columbia on March 21.
Regarding the most recent complaint, Stevens maintains he did nothing wrong. He said he simply asked the appeals board to uphold the law.
The councilman added he feels he’s being targeted.
“It’s a witch hunt,” he said.