MOUNT PLEASANT -- The South Carolina Ethics Commission has dismissed a complaint against Robert E. Miller Jr. that alleged he pressured two Town Council members to vote in opposition to new development projects.
The complaint alleged that on May 14, 2007, Miller, a Charleston County developer, offered to invest $250,000 with Coastal Wealth Management, Council member Ken Glasson's investment company, in exchange for Glasson's vote against the Central Mount Pleasant development.
It also alleged that on the same date Miller offered Council member and real estate agent Nick Collins the real estate listings for new homes in Snee Farm in exchange for a vote against a Snee Farm renovation project. Miller is a member of the Charleston County Planning Commission.
The Ethics Commission said it dismissed the complaint because there was not sufficient proof that Miller violated the law, but Miller was issued a warning, because the commission found that he engaged in acts of intimidation and created an appearance of impropriety. "Accordingly, the State Ethics Commission issues a strong warning and caution to Respondent (Miller) that it does not condone such acts and further warns Respondent to be mindful of the Rules of Conduct of the Ethics Reform Act when interacting with public officials in their public capacity and to avoid appearances of impropriety in the future."
Miller has denied threatening Collins or Glasson, but told The Post and Courier that he raised campaign funds for them with the understanding that they would vote with former Mayor Harry M. Hallman Jr. on major projects such as Central Mount Pleasant. Council approved the project in a 5-2 vote, with Council member Joe Bustos and Glasson voting in favor of it. Collins was absent. Hallman and Councilman Billy Swails cast the dissenting votes.
Central Mount Pleasant is on 110 acres and it is bounded by Rifle Range Road, Hungryneck Boulevard and Venning Road. It will have 719 residences, 405 of which will be concentrated in a 35-acre mixed-use tract with 350,000 square feet of office and retail space. It will also have a 200-room hotel and a new location for Mamie P. Whitesides Elementary School.
"The bottom line is that he (Miller) was found not guilty. Whether he needs to go to some sort of etiquette school, I don't know," said Andy Savage, Miller's attorney.
Savage described Miller as an aggressive, strong-willed person who is against uncontrolled growth but favors development in a methodical way. Miller did not respond to a voice mail message seeking comment.
In response to the decision, Collins said, "Being the bully on the playground will no longer work when you are expressing an opinion about a political issue which you have not gotten all the facts about is not being tolerated any more," he said.
Glasson could not be reached for comment.
Reach Prentiss Findlay at 937-5711 or email@example.com