LANCASTER — The South Carolina Ethics Commission is not investigating further an ethics violation Lancaster Sheriff Barry Faile committed in September, a commission representative said Friday.
Faile and Lancaster County Administrator Steve Willis reported the Sept. 27 violation when Debbie Hardin, the councils clerk, used county-owned resources to scan a campaign barbeque invitation and then e-mailed it to all seven Lancaster County Council members.
The sheriff said a county employee also carried the invitation through interoffice mail to Hardin along with many other documents a process county employees use every day to send paperwork.
I didnt think anything about it, Faile said. I just threw it in there.
Next time, Ill buy a stamp.
Hardin also self-reported the ethics violation, she said, because she sent the invitation, not realizing it was campaign material.
An hour later, Hardin, on the advice of the states Ethics Commission, sent council members another e-mail asking them to delete and disregard her message, citing the ethics violation.
State Ethics Commission guidelines state, "No person may use government personnel, equipment, materials, or an office building in an election campaign. A person may use public facilities for campaign purposes if they are available on similar terms to all candidates and committees. Likewise, government personnel may participate in election campaign on their own time and on non-government premises."
Re-elect Barry Faile, Lancaster County Sheriff, political sign attached to the fence at the Buford High Schools football field was questioned by the schools principal recently, said Lancaster County School District spokesman David Knight.
District officials determined the political sign did not violate the school districts policy that regulates advertising on school grounds, Knight said.
The sign faces the road outside the football stadium. Faile has another campaign sign on the other side of the fence which can be seen from the stands during sporting events.
The advertising policy, adopted in 2009, Knight said, allows for political signs to be placed in venues already designated for advertising.
Lancaster County School Districts superintendent has the authority to interpret the advertising policy and settle any disputes, according to the districts policy.
The districts booster club regularly sells advertising for the fence, he said, and Failes sign facing the road is next to a Wendys restaurant ad.
The inside of the fence, Knight said, has different types of advertising.
Knight said Faile paid $150 to the booster club for his re-election sign on the outside of the school fence.
The Ethics Commission sees no problem with political advertising on football fields, said Deputy Director Cathy Hazelwood said.
Failes sign on the outside of Buford High Schools stadium fence is more of a gray area, she said, but not a black-and-white violation.
Allowing any candidate to purchase space on the fence, she said, could open (the district) up to having to allow other candidates with extreme views to advertise.
Hazelwood said if the district tries to stop political ads on the fencetheir policy isnt specific enough to keep others from buying space.
Its just safer to say no to all political and campaign ads, she said.
I think the district should think longer and harder about that, Hazelwood said.
Knight said if Failes election opponent Scott Case wants to buy space for a campaign sign, he would be allowed to.
Case said Friday he has no plans to put signs on the schools property. He has a large campaign sign in the right-of-way near the high school already.
Anna Douglas 803-329-4068