The Buzz

Report: Page files sexual harassment claim against SC lawmaker

Rep. Edward Southard, R-Berkeley
Rep. Edward Southard, R-Berkeley

A S.C. House page has filed a sexual-harassment complaint against state Rep. Edward Southard, R-Berkeley, The Post and Courier of Charleston reported Thursday.

Details of the complaint have not been released. Southard, a former Berkeley County planning commission chairman who won a special election in 2011, told the Charleston paper that he was surprised the complaint had become public.

“You shouldn’t be knowing about it because I was assured that no one would know about it, except me and three other people,” Southard told the paper.

The office of S.C. House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Darlington, would not confirm the complaint to The State.

“The speaker’s office cannot provide comment on possible ethics complaints or investigations pursuant to state law,” Lucas spokeswoman Caroline Delleney said. “Such matters are given immediate and serious attention. If a complaint is filed, Speaker Lucas adheres to House policy to ensure the matter is resolved properly.”

Southard is on two House committees, agriculture and regulations. The owner of a Moncks Corner construction company is running unopposed for re-election this year.

State Rep. Nelson Hardwick, R-Horry, resigned last year after a sexual-harassment allegation was filed by a female House staff member.

Hardwick was indicted in October on a count of misconduct in office, a misdemeanor offense that carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison, after House leaders turned over their investigative findings to law enforcement.