Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Berkeley County School District Communications Director Amy Kovatch has been indicted by a Berkeley County Grand Jury for her role in the district’s “Yes for Schools” campaign, waged to garner public support for a countywide referendum.
South Carolina Attorney General’s Office spokesman Mark Powell confirmed the news this afternoon.
Powell said that Kovatch faces a possible $5,000 fine or one year in prison if she is convicted.
“An indictment was returned today by the Berkeley County Grand Jury,” Powell said. “Amy Kovatch was indicted on one count of ‘Violation of the Ethics Act; Use of Public Funds to Influence the Outcome of an Election.’
“The offense is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 or up to one year in prison. Attorney General Alan Wilson stresses that all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Finally, the investigation remains ongoing.”
Powell refused to comment on the likelihood that more indictments may be forthcoming. Specifically, Superintendent Rodney Thompson and Deputy Superintendent Archie Franchini were also targets of a SLED investigation regarding the “Yes” campaign.
“I’m happy that the attorney general didn’t just sweep this under the rug and that he felt this was serious,” Berkeley County Republican Party Chairman Terry Hardesty said.
Hardesty said he was not surprised by the indictment, and in fact expects more.
“I read about 2,500 emails between the three principles of the investigation,” he said. “I’m not surprised at all. I’d be surprised if there are not more indictments.”
Hardesty – former school board member – confirmed that he has settled his own lawsuit against the school district he filed last year after the board limited the time he could address it. Hardesty called a report that his settlement with the school board was $65,000 “accurate.”
“It was substantially more than the $10,000 and attorney’s fees, and an apology, that I would have agreed to three months ago,” Hardesty said. “I went to go speak my mind about what they were doing over the SLED investigation and they shut me up.”
Hardesty said he planned to address the board again at its Tuesday night meeting in Moncks Corner.
“I intend to speak to the board again tonight,” he said. “I implore them again to quit spending public money for attorneys (for employees) that are under criminal investigation. A criminal act is just not an act of good faith.”