Moseley, whistleblower face panel scrutiny

Coe

What does it cost to drive a county vehicle to GOP offices to file for re-election?

Apparently 16 cents, if you ask County Auditor Peggy Moseley, who learned Tuesday that the State Ethics Commission was investigating her trip.

But county resident David Coe — Moseley's most vocal critic and the person who filed the complaint with the commission — said he could face a fine of up to $1,000 and a year-long jail sentence for violating confidentiality rules by releasing information about the pending investigation to the press.

After learning the commission was investigating her use of her county vehicle for campaign purposes, which is illegal under state law, Moseley apparently decided to pay back the county.

County spokeswoman Tracey Amick said Moseley on Tuesday gave her assistant 16 cents and had the assistant take the money to the finance office to reimburse the county for the mileage for Moseley's March trip to the Charleston County Republican Party offices.

Amick did not know how Moseley calculated the amount she owed. Moseley's assistant completed and filed the proper paperwork, Amick said.

Moseley did not return calls for comment Wednesday.

Coe has been a relentless critic of Moseley since 2009, when he pushed the county to be more diligent about collecting taxes on yachts. He often shows up at Charleston County Council's public comment sessions to complain about Moseley.

On April 20, Coefiled a complaint with the commission stating that Moseley was seen driving her assigned county car to GOP offices to file for re-election.

Herbert Hayden, executive director of the commission, has said he could neither confirm nor deny whether an investigation was under way because such disclosures are a criminal offense under state statute.

But in an April 27 letter to Coe, Hayden stated the complaint Coe had filed “contained facts sufficient to warrant an investigation.”

Coe said Wednesday that he didn't understand that he was required to keep quiet about the investigation.

He apologized for the misunderstanding, “but I really feel the public should know about this,” he said.

Moseley also has drawn attention in recent months for delayed tax bills and a controversial tax break on her Johns Island home, which was later rescinded.

She is serving her fifth four-year term as auditor. To win a sixth, she must defeat two Republican opponents: former Charleston County School Board member David Engelman and former Mount Pleasant Town Councilman Paul Gawrych.

The GOP winner will face Democrat Peter Tecklenburg and possibly a petition candidate this fall.

Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or on Twitter @dianeknich.

Editor's note: Earlier published versions of this story needed clarification with regard to what statement was attributed to Charleston County spokeswoman Tracey Amick.