SPRINGFIELD — The S.C. Ethics Commission ruled in July that Springfield Police Chief Terry Logan did not violate state ethics laws by using a town-owned lawn mower to cut grass on his personal property, The Times and Democrat has learned.
John Baxley, a Springfield resident, filed an ethics complaint against Logan in August 2012.
“I feel that our town needs both transparency and competency in government,” Baxley said in an interview. “I am interested in protecting the taxpayers’ money. Town equipment should be for town benefit.”
Baxley added, “Before I wrote a formal complaint to the S.C. Ethics Commission, I tried to address the situation with the town administration. It’s been over a year since I issued this complaint, and it was resolved about two months ago. I feel the citizenry has the right to know.”
The state Ethics Commission found that Logan was given permission by Springfield officials several years ago to use the equipment on his property, a fact verified by Mayor Marilyn McCormick last week.
Despite the fact that state Ethics officials found no wrongdoing on his part, Logan said he reimbursed the Town of Springfield $97.50 for operation costs of the lawn mower and paid the S.C. Ethics Commission a $500 administrative fee to cover the expense of its investigation into Baxley’s complaint.
In his complaint, Baxley cited seven incidences when Logan allegedly used town equipment to maintain his property, supporting those claims with photographs of the police chief using the town’s equipment and a time-line showing when Logan used it. Baxley accused Logan of using a town-owned or leased lawn mower for six hours and 26 minutes on his own property.
In response, Logan said that as part of his incentive package when he was hired as police chief about four years ago, he was told it was standard policy that employees were allowed to use town equipment on their personal property.
The S.C. Ethics Commission did note that Logan inadvertently violated section 8-13-700(A) of the Ethics Reform Act. As a result, Logan received a written warning but no fines or other actions were levied against the police chief.
To read the complete findings, access the S.C. Ethics Commission website, ethics.sc.gov, then select complaints and enter Case #2013-060.
According to Logan, the investigation is now “a non-issue.”
“I did nothing wrong,” he said. “Using the equipment was part of my incentive package, and the package was approved by the Springfield Town Council.”
He said he believes Baxley has a personal vendetta against the current Springfield administration and the police department.
“He invaded my privacy by photographing me while I was off-duty cutting my grass and then made this frivolous report to the Ethics Commission. The incident was settled two months ago, and I feel that it is being brought up now as a political ploy because we are close to an election,” Logan said.
“I have no knowledge of Baxley attempting to handle this situation prior to a formal complaint being filed by him against me with the S.C. Ethics Commission ... I was given permission to use the equipment, and I am not the only town employee to have done so.”
* Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.