ATLANTIC BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) – Ethics violation charges against a former Atlantic Beach councilwoman have been dismissed, according to a South Carolina Ethics Commission filing.
Carolyn Cole was accused of using her office for gain when she signed checks totaling almost $23,000 to herself between July 2011 and June 2012 for payment of a civil award of judgement against the town of Atlantic Beach.
The complaint was filed in 2013 by current Atlantic Beach Mayor Jake Evans. A hearing was held on the matter on June 20.
Prior to serving on town council, Cole served as town manager from 2001 until 2005 and successfully litigated several lawsuits against Atlantic Beach. As a result, the town owed Cole over $300,000, the filing states.
Former Town Manager Benny Webb testified that Cole pressured him to co-sign checks toward her court-ordered settlements, and if he didn’t sign them, Cole would not co-sign paychecks for town employees, according to the filing.
Cole denied Webb’s claims and offered her own testimony, as well as witness testimony, as to Webb’s motivation in making the allegations against her. Cole testified that her personal relationship with Webb deteriorated during her time on town council, “culminating in a state of extreme tension and hostility,” the filing states.
According to the filing, the ethics commission found Cole’s testimony more credible than Webb’s and the violation charges were dismissed.