HICKS COLUMN: Taxpayers do care, Moseley
Peggy Moseley is kind of like that honey badger on YouTube -- she don't care.
Robert Behre reported that the longtime Charleston County auditor dropped by GOP headquarters on Friday to file for re-election, and she was driving her county-issued car. It was kind of hard to miss, what with that county logo on the side.
You know, it's technically illegal to use taxpayer property for political purposes, but Moseley made it clear she doesn't give a whit.
"I don't feel guilty a bit," she said.
Moseley says she was in North Charleston on county business, and the stop was not that far out of the way. Truth be told, this is certainly not the first -- nor will it be the last -- time that a government worker uses a taxpayer vehicle to run an errand. It's nothing to condone, but it's not Watergate.
In fact, such a minor lapse would probably be overlooked by most. Unfortunately, that may not happen here because this isn't Moseley's first problem.
The last year has not been a good one for the auditor.
In the summer of 2011, there was news that two lots she owned were getting agricultural exemptions that lowered their assessed value by about $50,000 each. Whether the exemptions were justified or not, the perception was that she got special consideration since she, uh, sends out the tax bills.
And in politics, perception is reality.
Then, some County Council members blamed Moseley for tax bills going out late last year. They said she refused to learn the county's new computer system; she claimed the system had numerous problems that were slowing her office down. Privately, some county officials conceded the truth was likely somewhere in the middle (isn't it always?). But again there was that perception problem.
Now this car thing is thrown into the mix.
"I was saddened to hear her say she didn't care if it was wrong," County Council Chairman Teddie Pryor said. "She ought to be held to the same rules as her employees."
You can't really argue with that.
Staff it out
This latest fiasco comes just as Moseley faces opposition in the Republican primary and, if she wins, an opponent in the general election. At least the Democrat is sniffing around because of the trouble Moseley has had of late.
Moseley said Tuesday that she was in North Charleston because, "We had been told about a business that had some out-of-state licenses" on their cars. It happens a lot, Moseley says, probably by people hoping to avoid paying South Carolina car taxes.
If that's the case, maybe Moseley should staff out that detective work and keep a low profile for the next few months.
Because even though county officials have had little to say about this incident, and it's unlikely anyone will file a formal complaint with the State Ethics Commission over such trivia, this may not be the end of it.
Because even if Moseley don't care, the voters might.
Follow Brian Hicks on Twitter at @BriHicks_PandC.