More allegations of intimidation and attempted bribery by Charleston County Planning Commission member Robert E. Miller Jr. were aired Friday during testimony in a suit brought by Mount Pleasant Town Councilman Ken Glasson.
Dan Martin, chairman of the Charleston County election board, and Mount Pleasant Town Councilman Paul Gawrych testified about their dealings with Miller.
Martin said Miller threatened him in 2004 when Miller's wife, Jill Miller, was forced to resign as director of the Charleston County Board of Elections and Voter Registration. The night that the election board asked for Jill Miller's resignation, Martin said he received a call from her husband.
"(Miller) was very upset. He told me that my career in politics was over and that he would ruin me personally," Martin said. Martin, who is black, said Miller used a racial slur against him.
"Bob had a reputation of being a bully. He was extremely angry. He was screaming on the phone," Martin said.
Gawrych testified that Mount Pleasant Town Councilman Joe Bustos told him that Miller had tried to influence the vote of Glasson and Councilman Nick Collins on the Central Mount Pleasant project.
"Mr. Miller was trying to use a quid-pro-quo approach with Mr. Collins," Gawrych said. Collins has testified that Miller wanted him to vote with Mayor Harry Hallman against Central Mount Pleasant, which was approved in May of 2007 by a 5-2 vote.
"Mr. Glasson called me a couple of days after Mr. Bustos called. Mr. Glasson said he had been approached by Mr. Miller," Gawrych said. He testified that Glasson told him, "(Miller) is offering me money for my vote."
Gawrych testified that Miller approached him about council approval of the Carolina Park development in 2004.
According to Gawrych, Miller said, "This is something that we need to get approved. Mr. Gawrych, this will be a great project. There should be work for you there for the next 30 years." Gawrych's business is Asphalt Concepts.
Gawrych said Miller called him and went to see him in person about the Central Mount Pleasant project. He said Miller told him the development was a bad project for the town in part because of traffic congestion. "(Miller) told me he had a problem with the density," Gawrych said.
Under cross-examination by Mark Mason, Miller's attorney, Gawrych admitted that Miller had done nothing illegal, there was no improper
relationship between Miller and Hallman and that he had a high degree of respect for Hallman.
A Post and Courier reporter testified about stories published in the newspaper regarding the allegations of influence peddling relative to Central Mount Pleasant. A WCSC-TV staff member was called to the stand to answer questions about station video clips of convicted swindler Al Parish.
John Parker, attorney for Glasson, and Mason argued before Circuit Judge Deadra Jefferson about showing the jury video clips of Parrish.
In a story published in 2007 in the Charleston City Paper, Miller said Glasson was running an Al Parish-type ponzi scheme. Jefferson ruled that some of the clips can be shown to the jury next week.
She said associating Glasson with Parrish could be a factor in the determination of damages. "To align the plaintiff in that way, it allows a heightened sense of damages," Jefferson said.