Lillian McBride, who on Nov. 6 oversaw the states most bungled elections, earns $89,124, according to county pay records released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by The State.
Richland County elections chief Lillian McBride is paid nearly as much as the chief of the State Election Commission and more than her counterparts in South Carolinas other two largest counties.
McBride, who on Nov. 6 oversaw the states most bungled elections, earns $89,124, according to county pay records released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by The State.
State election chief Marci Andino, whose agency oversees elections statewide, makes $90,281 just $1,157 more than McBride.
McBride never oversaw an election before she was installed in her job in July 2011 as head of the newly merged Elections & Voter Registration Office. She previously had been head of the countys voter registration office.
Charleston County elections chief Joe Debney makes $73,964. Debney, who took the job in 2011, had worked three years as elections chief in Dorchester County. Before that, he was with the State Election Commission.
Greenville County elections chief Conway Belangia makes $80,000. He has had the job 20 years.
Like McBride, Debney and Belangia oversee elections including training poll workers and making sure enough working voting machines get to precincts along with voter registration.
Charleston County has 183 precincts and 237,026 registered voters. Greenville County has 153 precincts and 281,215 registered voters. Richland County has 124 precincts and 237,913 registered voters, according to the State Election Commission.
Unlike McBride, the lesser-paid Belangia and Debney ran smooth elections, say people familiar with their November elections.
Conway runs a good ship, said Greenville County Republican Party chairwoman Betty Poe. Our election went well.
S.C. Democratic Party chairman Dick Harpootlian, who monitored Charleston County elections, said, They went well. I didnt hear any complaints about voting machine breakdowns or not enough machines.
Seven pay raises since 2008
In recent years, McBrides taxpayer-funded salary has not been subject to the pay freezes common to many workers in government as well as private business.
Since 2008, McBride has had seven pay raises.
Her first three pay raises came while she was head of the Richland County Voter Registration Board. On July 1, 2008, McBrides salary was raised to $53,298 from $51,846. On Jan. 1, 2009, she received a raise to $55,323. On July 3, 2010, she received a raise to $66,429.
On July 1, 2011, McBride assumed control of elections as well as voter registration, from Mike Cinnamon, who previously had run the county elections office.
On that day, McBride received a raise to $67,518.
A day later, McBride received another raise to $85,000.
Six weeks later, McBride received a raise to $86,394.
On June 30, 2012, McBride received a raise to her current $89,124.
McBrides raises from 2008 to 2010, before she assumed her responsibility for the merged elections and voter registration office, were due, at least in part, to an effort to pay her in line with former elections director Cinnamon, according to news accounts at the time.
In July 2008, Cinnamon made $66,013. When he left office, at the end of June 2011, his salary was $68,521.
McBride received her raise from $66,429 to $85,000 in July 2011 because she was assuming the duties of Cinnamons elections office as well as the voter registration efforts that she previously had led, officials have said.
McBrides salary was set at $85,000 because it was near the average of the salaries of her counterparts in Greenville and Charleston counties, said state Sen. Darrell Jackson, D-Richland, chairman of the Richland County legislative delegation, which named McBride to the merged post in mid-2011 and to whom she directly reports today.
That average now would be about $77,000. But Jackson said the delegation used the salary of former Charleston County elections chief Marilyn Bowers, who made about $93,000 a year, to come up with McBrides salary. Bowers successor, Debney, was hired at $72,500 and now makes $73,964.
Since adding Cinnamons responsibilities, McBride has hired two employees paid salaries in the mid- or high-$60,000 range, according to information released by state and county government under the papers open records request.
• Garry Baum, McBrides deputy director. McBride hired Baum in July 2011 for $66,500. Baum now earns $68,630. When he left the State Election Commission, where he had worked some 18 years, Baum earned $55,287.
Baum is the brother-in-law of state Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Richland, one of the members of the Richland County legislative delegation that hired McBride. In an interview, Lourie said he did not in any way influence the hiring of Baum.
However, Lourie said he was glad McBride hired two experienced staffers from the State Election Commission to help her out, since she lacked the experience that departing elections director Cinnamon had. Cinnamon had overseen county elections for some 38 years.
Garry Baum declined comment.
• Cheryl Goodwin, election systems coordinator. McBride hired Goodwin in July 2011 for $65,699, her current salary. Prior to joining McBrides office, Goodwin made $51,273 at the State Election Commission, where she had worked 17 years. Press accounts at the time describe Goodwin as an expert on voting machines and the creation of election databases.
Another of elections office employee, voter registration manager Elizabeth Cromer Epps, earns $65,999, according to county records.
Together, the salaries of McBride, Baum, Goodwin and Epps total $289,753, or almost a quarter of the county Elections & Voter Registration Offices budget of $1.2 million.
Other than to confirm that she hired Louries brother-in-law, Baum, McBride declined comment.
Investigating the debacle
On Nov. 6, the elections process McBride oversaw was marked by voting lines with waits of up to seven hours at some precincts, due to a shortage of working voting machines. Untold numbers of would-be voters gave up trying to cast ballots because they had to get back to work or take care of children.
McBrides performance, and that of her office, now is the subject of an investigation by attorney Steven Hamm. The Richland County Election Commission, the board that oversees the elections office, hired Hamm in the wake of numerous complaints by voters and other officials.
Jackson said Thursday he hopes people will wait before reaching a judgment until Hamms investigation is finished perhaps by late December so the facts will be known about what went wrong. Except for an appearance at Mondays legislative delegation hearing and brief statements Nov. 6, McBride has not spoken publicly about the massive elections breakdown.