COLUMBIA — Former state Rep. Eddy Southard has agreed to pay a fine and accept a public reprimand, closing an investigation into accusations of sexual harassment at the Statehouse.
Southard will pay $2,000, which is the maximum fine the House Ethics Committee can levy. He has 30 days to settle.
Southard’s attorney, Mark Peper, said Southard agreed not to contest the committee’s findings in an effort to avoid the expense of any future dispute.
“As stated in the agreement, nothing contained therein is to be construed as an admission by Mr. Southard,” Peper said.
House Legislative Ethics Committee attorney Deborah Barbier stressed that the fine and reprimand was the most severe sanction available to the panel.
“Imposing the most severe sanctions available to the committee, I believe, sends a clear message to the South Carolina House, and to anyone that’s on the Statehouse grounds, that sexual harassment in any form whatsoever will not be tolerated,” Barbier said. “The South Carolina House, I know is committed to maintaining a safe, comfortable and healthy workplace environment.”
Southard, a Moncks Corner Republican, had to remove his name from the November ballot as part of the agreement. While Southard resigned his House District 100 seat, he initially declined to take his name out of contention.
Southard gave up his seat earlier this spring after a female Statehouse page accused him of harassment. Two other women later came forward with similar accusations.
Earlier this month, Republican Sylleste Davis was certified to fill the rest of Southard’s term. She made her first appearance as a state representative Wednesday in Columbia to address the governor’s vetoes. She is a retired manager who previously worked at Santee Cooper, the state-owned electric and water utility.
Reach Maya T. Prabhu at 843-509-8933.