COLUMBIA -- Prosecutors have been asked to review whether public funds were misused at South Carolina State University, Herb Hayden, the state Ethics Commission's executive director, confirmed Friday.
Hayden said an investigative report prepared by his office was turned over to 1st Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe in Orangeburg for review.
"He will make a decision whether there is evidence to justify a prosecution," Hayden said.
Hayden declined to discuss details of the report, saying only that his office conducted an investigation into "allegations of misuse of public funds," and it primarily involved the university's finance department.
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Efforts Friday to reach Pascoe was unsuccessful.
University spokeswoman Erica Prioleau declined comment Friday, saying she first had to consult with university officials. The university's board of trustees met Friday on unrelated matters.
The university's finances have come under public scrutiny in recent years. In 2004, for example, the state Budget and Control Board initially delayed giving the university permission to begin a $36.2 million apartment complex project after questions were raised about the university's bookkeeping practices.
State Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom said then the university routinely had missed a deadline for completing an annual audit the state requires of agencies.
Hayden said Friday an investigation began earlier this year after his office "anonymously received a copy of an audit report done by a university auditor," though he declined to discuss specifics. He said two investigators from his office were assigned to the case.
If prosecutors decline to seek criminal charges, the case will be reviewed by the nine-member Ethics Commission for a possible hearing, Hayden said. A three-member panel would conduct any hearing.
The commission could issue reprimands to the university, levy a fine up to $2 ,000, order restitution or make other recommendations, Hayden said.
He estimated that of the 100 to 150 cases his office investigates yearly involving alleged violations of ethics, campaign and lobbying laws, 60 to 70 percent are handled administratively.