Fired Elections Director Slams Board
Jackson says 'it came down to a power struggle'
Columbia, S.C. (WOLO) -- Recently terminated Richland County Elections and Voter Registration Director, Howard Jackson, claims the Richland County board of elections, to which he reported, made it virtually impossible for him to do his job. He says he's so upset he plans to take his concerns to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED). He believes actions by some of the board members amount to what he calls 'criminal activity.'
He says solving on going issues of uncounted ballots, broken voting machines and long lines that plagued the November 2012 general election and others that followed would never be rectified because he couldn't reprimand those in his office he says were responsible for the fall out.
"[The board] wanted to ratify all of my decisions," said Jackson. "Every decision I brought to the board was to stand down."
Jackson claims he was badgered, bullied and reprimanded because he fired deputy director Gerry Baum against the wishes of the board.
"I was told i was insubordinate for those actions," said Jackson.
Baum, is the brother-in-law of democratic state senator Joel Lourie, and the board allegedly told Jackson terminating the deputy director would be a "bad political move."
Lourie told ABC Columbia News by phone at no time has he discussed his brother-in-law's job with any member of the board, past or present.
Another reason Jackson claims he was fired was the battle that ensued when he tried to find Baum's replacement.
"The first question I got when I mentioned my selection to the board was 'what color is he?' not is he qualified, but what color is he? I was told to rescind the offer to see if we could get another qualified applicant."
However, according to a member of the Richland County Elections Delegation, who wants to remain anonymous, the board has every right to question the actions of any director because the director serves "at the pleasure" of the board, and it has every right to terminate at will.
Efforts to reach each board member for responses were unsuccessful.
While board members may not be speaking out individually, we did receive word they have scheduled a special called meeting to tomorrow to discuss "personnel related issues." while board members may not be speaking out individually, we did receive word they have scheduled a special called meeting to tomorrow to discuss "personnel related issues."
Jackson's official last day on the job is Friday, February 28.
Wind: 3 MPH
Humidity: 58 %