Palmetto Sunrise: Berkeley County sheriff resigns; Gov. Nikki Haley to name replacement

The South Carolina Statehouse. Grace Beahm/Staff

It falls to Gov. Nikki Haley to name Berkeley County’s next sheriff after Wayne DeWitt tendered his resignation Wednesday following a December drunken driving arrest.

In a short letter accepting his resignation, Haley didn’t give an indication for who she might appoint to the job or when she’ll make her decision. Chief Deputy Rick Ollic is serving as interim sheriff.

The Post and Courier’s Andrew Knapp reports that DeWitt announced his resignation just minutes after the county released documents outlining his employment history, including past sexual harrassment claims.

DeWitt’s case added to a recent string of South Carolina sheriffs landing in hot water and raised questions about the rules that apply to the state’s top cops.

One that came into play with DeWitt’s arrest is a law that says only a sheriff can only be arrested by a coroner. Three senators have proposed repealing that law; their bill is currently in committee.

And after the state’s longest-serving sheriff, James Metts of Lexington County, pleaded guilty to a felony last year, lawmakers promptly renamed a boat landing in his name. Senators have since suggested not allowing things like buildings and roads to be named for public officials until five years after they die.

In other news...

Haley’s nominee to lead the state Department of Social Services is headed to the Senate floor. (The Post and Courier)

A House panel moved legislation aimed at improving the state’s open records laws. (AP)

A 1.1-percent tax on cellphone bills is proposed in the state Senate. (The Post and Courier)

Episcopal parishes in the Lowcountry plan will appeal a ruling that gave breakaway churches $500 million in property. (The Post and Courier)

A lawmaker’s husband beat a 16-year incumbent in a judicial election Wednesday. (The State)

DSS won’t get its federally mandated case-tracking software until 2019, 22 years after a federal deadline. (AP)

South Carolina’s education chief says it should take five years to fully fund schools. (AP)

A Senate committee praised the Port of Charleston’s settlement with conservationists. (The Post and Courier)