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Inspector general probes Chrysler used by Elzey

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Elzey in office

South Carolina State University President Thomas Elzey

The State Inspector General’s Office has developed a report about a Chrysler 300 previously driven by South Carolina State University President Thomas Elzey, although the report has not yet been released to the public.

The vehicle was leased for Elzey by Unicco, a service company that has a $4.8 million yearly contract with the university, Vice President of External Affairs and Communication Sonja Bennett said. She said the contract was negotiated by the state and approved by the State Materials Management office.

“In its capacity as the university’s fleet manager, Unicco previously rented a Chrysler 300 vehicle from Enterprise Rental after the president’s state vehicle was involved in an accident,” Bennett said.

She said Unicco has submitted invoices to the university, but to date the university has not made any payments.

Like many of S.C. State’s vendors, Unicco has not received recent payments for services rendered, she said.

S.C. State reported in February that it faced a deficit of more than $13 million by the end of the current fiscal year on June 30 and appealed to the state Legislature for help. It is drawing from a $6 million loan from the S.C. Budget and Control Board to pay its most urgent loans.

Bennett noted that Elzey is no longer driving the vehicle

The Times and Democrat has requested a copy of the Inspector General’s report under the S.C. Freedom of Information Act.

WIS-TV reporter Jody Barr also requested the Inspector General’s report on a vehicle leased to Elzey, but the university attorney responded the report is confidential until “fully adjudicated by the university.”

The Inspector General’s Office confirmed it has a “pending case involving S.C. State,” but stated “all misconduct investigations are pending until the affected agency fully adjudicates the allegation(s).” It did not confirm the topic of its report.

S.C. State trustee Tony Grant expressed concern about Unicco providing a vehicle for Elzey in a letter to Board Chairman Dr. William Small Jr. dated Jan. 13, 2014.

He asked if Unicco had purchased the vehicle for the president and was told it had not. He said he learned later that the company had leased the vehicle.

“Is this a violation of the South Carolina procurement law and is this legal?” he asked.

Grant also asked if Unicco’s contract had been modified in any way to where fleet-management responsibilities were transferred to Unicco after it leased the car.

The Times and Democrat received a copy of Grant’s letter and the university’s response.

The university stated, “There has been no written modification of the university’s contract with UGL Services to memorialize its management of the university’s fleet.” UGL Services owns the UGL Unicco brand.

It also noted, “Per the President’s employment contract, the university is obligated to ‘provide (him) with an automobile for (his) use during (his) tenure as president (, and is) ... responsible for reasonable automobile operating expenses (for the vehicle) incurred in the performance of (his) duties.”

A section of the response was redacted, with attorney-client privilege cited as the reason.

Contact the writer: dlinder-altman@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5529.

Contact the writer: 803-533-5529

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