Former Columbia City Councilman Brain DeQuincey Newman resigned Monday as chairman of the Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority.
“Brian thought it would be best,” Newman’s attorney, Bakari Sellers, confirmed.
Newman has been at the center of a firestorm since early January when he was arrested and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of failure to pay state taxes and file state income taxes for two years. He received a brief probation, with Sellers saying Newman is up-to-date on taxes.
Newman, 33, had his law license suspended after his guilty plea.
He initially resisted calls to step down from the authority, but Sellers said that Newman decided to resign to put the matter behind him.
The authority operates public buses and their routes in and around Columbia. It also oversees millions of dollars in revenue and expenses for the buses, much of which comes from Richland County’s transportation penny sales tax.
In recent weeks, Newman also attracted attention after The State newspaper disclosed he had been the recipient of a $398,000 contract paid for by tax proceeds.
The disclosure raised questions about why a well-connected public official – Newman was a councilman when the contract was awarded and his father is a state judge – was granted a lucrative no-bid deal for property title searches.
Newman’s income tax questions came to light last year during a wide-ranging state Department of Revenue investigation into how tax proceeds are being handled and spent.
After voters in 2012 approved a tax estimated to rain more than $1 billion for 22 years, County Council turned over much authority on how to spend that money to several private companies. Many details on how those companies are spending public money are not readily available to the public.