West Columbia mayor sues officials for defamation

This screen capture from a WIS-TV news video shows West Columbia Mayor Joe Owens, who is suing City Council members and city officials.

WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. — The mayor of West Columbia is suing six City Council members and two city officials, accusing them of defamation of character.

Multiple media outlets reported that Mayor Joe Owens filed the lawsuit Thursday because of a report some of his opponents requested last summer.

Owens says the allegations of misconduct are wrong.

The report accuses Owens of bending rules to reward his friends and intimidate those who oppose him. Owens’ attorney Chip Burn says the allegations are wrong.

The report did not accuse Owens of doing anything illegal.

Council members stripped Owens of most of his authority last year. City voters refused to restore his powers in a September referendum.

City Councilman Tem Miles says the lawsuit is part of Owens’ re-election strategy and it won’t work.