What role did Harrell’s ex-chief of staff play?

  • Posted: Saturday, February 9, 2013 12:01 a.m., Updated: Saturday, February 9, 2013 12:17 a.m.

House Speaker Bobby Harrell’s former chief of staff played a role in 2006 when the Charleston Republican was seeking approval for his drug repackaging business, according to an email from a former state official.

In a recently released May 2006 email, a former chairman of the S.C. Board of Pharmacy wrote that former chief of staff Don Hottel was like Harrell, very upset when the pair were told by the board that Harrell’s company would need a repackaging permit from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The former chairman, Bobby Bradham, sent the email to fellow board members. Bradham wrote that Hottel had scheduled a phone conference with Harrell, Bradham and a Pharmacy Board official for that May afternoon.

Hottel, now an assistant House clerk, served as chief of staff in Harrell’s office from 2005-06.

In the same email, Bradham also wrote that Harrell and Hottel (whose name Bradham misspelled) had asked for the names and phone numbers for each pharmacy board member. Bradham told board members they should be hearing from the duo.

State law bars officials from knowingly using their office to benefit themselves financially. The prohibition does not extend to “the incidental use of public materials, personnel, or equipment ... that does not result in additional public expense.”

Bradham’s email was included in correspondence related to Harrell’s Palmetto State Pharmaceuticals released by the S.C. Policy Council last month. The council’s leader has said the correspondence raises questions about whether Harrell used his office to benefit his business.

Bradham did not respond to more than a half-dozen requests for comment from The Post and Courier. Other 2006 Pharmacy Board members either declined comment or said they could not remember how the issue with Harrell’s company unfolded in 2006.

Harrell said last month in response to the release by the Policy Council that he did not seek special treatment from the state, and that he was merely seeking information from the state on how to run the company.

Hottel declined an interview request from the newspaper, instead directing all questions to Harrell’s office. Harrell’s spokesman Greg Foster said in an email that he talked with Hottel about Bradham’s email and showed him a copy of it. But Hottel had no recollection of the issue that was discussed in the message and did not recall emailing, talking or meeting with Bradham, Foster wrote.

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