What happens when a candidate for office is elected and is "qualified" to serve, but never takes the oath of office after becoming eligible* to take it?
According to South Carolina state law (S.C. Code of Laws Section 8-13-1110(A)), the person elected cannot take the oath of office OR begin serving in that office until his (her) Statement of Economic Interest has been filed.
What happens in the case where the person elected files the SEI but then does not take the oath of office?
First of all, it is illegal for that person to serve and to perform the responsibilities of the elected office.
Secondly, the public body should not pay any taxpayer funds to that person, because she is not legally in office.
Thirdly, the person who serves without taking the oath of office is usurping public office.
Are low-paid employees of the public body (here, the Richland 2 School District), who are just doing their jobs as trained and directed, liable for disbursing public monies illegally?
Are their supervisors, managers and department heads liable? Is the school district's superintendent liable?
How about the Board of Trustees (here, the School Board)? If they know about the problem and do nothing about it, are they complicit in the violations of the law?
The Richland County Elections Commission has been asked to determine whether an elected person loses eligibility to take the oath of office after some period of time?
On November 6, 2018 Amelia McKie and Teresa Holmes were elected to office.
On November 13, 2018 McKie and Holmes took the oath of office illegally. They had not filed SEIs. They were allowed to take seats at the November 13, 2018 Regular Meeting. They participated in the meeting and voted on motions. Although they were "qualified" for the office as Trustee, they were not eligible yet.
On December 4, 2018 McKie and Holmes filed their SEIs with the S.C. Ethics Commission. On that date they became eligible to take the oath of office and commence their official duties.
McKie and Holmes have not taken the oath of office (legally) on or after December 4, 2018. That is almost 21 months ago. Nearly two years!
The School District has paid them a monthly salary ($900.00?) and paid their expenses, such as S.C. School Boards Assn. memberships. No doubt that other expenses have been paid or reimbursed for them.
They are not legitimate board members. To become legitimate board members, all they need to do is take the oath of office on or after December 4, 2018.
According to the Richland 2 School District, as of August 20, 2020 they have not done so (except for the oath they took improperly on November 13, 2018).
Do you agree that they should take the oath of office immediately or be prevented from further participation on the School Board? Please let me know by comment below, by phone or text (847/971-7083), or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your response will be treated confidentially.
* The oath of office should not have been administered to McKie and Holmes on November 13, 2018, because the Elections Commission had not yet certified their election. The election was certified on November 9th and the earliest they could have taken office was one week later, on November 16, 2018, had they already filed their SEIs, which they hadn't.