When a group of legislators took aim earlier this month at Richland County Recreation Commission board members for nepotism, the commission’s chairwoman did some digging of her own.
Writing on the Rec Commission’s official letterhead in early September, J. Marie Green filed open records requests for public records related to any S.C. State House employees who are relatives of state senators and representatives.
Green’s inquiries came the day after 10 members of Richland County’s State House delegation demanded Green and four other board members quit, citing – among other grievances – “blatant abuses of nepotism” within the commission.
Brandishing documents made available through their own open records request, the Richland legislators said on Aug. 31 that the Recreation Commission has at least 10 employees who are related or closely connected to the commission’s embattled former director, James Brown III; his son, James A. Brown; or board chair Green.
Green filed her inquiries the next day.
“Nothing this woman does surprises me,” said state Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Richland, one of the lawmakers who called for Green to resign. “That act alone is just another example of a chairwoman just out of control and out of touch with reality. It was a pathetic attempt to make others look bad, when in reality, it only made her look bad.”
Writing to S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley on Oct. 13, legislators called Green’s open record request “yet another example of the five commissioners’ inability to oversee RCRC.”
“Rather than concentrating on the mounting issues at RCRC, Ms. Green reacts with pettiness and immaturity by focusing on irrelevant matters.”
If Green was looking for dirt on her accusers, she uncovered little to work with.
Four S.C. State House employees are related to current legislators. But only one is related to a member of Richland County’s delegation, Green’s inquiry found. Robert Motley, who is related to state Rep. Nathan Ballentine, R-Richland, makes $7.25 a hour working as a part-time House page.
Ballentine is among the 10 legislators who called on the five Rec Commission members’ removal.
The S.C. Senate has no employees who meet the definition of “relative” as outlined by Green in her request.
However, the sister-in-law of one Rec Commission critic – state Sen. John Courson, R-Richland – is paid $83,750 a year as the research director for the Senate’s K-12 education subcommittee.
Efforts to reach Green for comment were unsuccessful.