GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) — Just a week before his criminal trial, suspended Greenville County Sheriff Will Lewis is back in the public eye after recordings of conversations about his possible resignation were made public.
Lewis was indicted on criminal obstruction of justice and misconduct in office charges last spring, this after he admitted to an extramarital affair that may have happened on a taxpayer-funded trip to Charlotte.
Greenville County Council members are speaking out about what really happened in the weeks surrounding his indictment.
“Council did take a formal vote and ask for Sheriff Lewis’ resignation,” said Council member Ennis Fant.
“I felt like that after that the relationship between him and the County Council took a nosedive,” said Council member Joe Dill.
The conversations show some were trying to find a way for Lewis to leave office with a buyout.
“It was talked about informally but it never got any traction because we felt it would give the appearance to taxpayers that we were compensating people for wrongdoing,” said Fant.
State Representative Bruce Bannister posting a response to the recorded conversations involving himself. Saying he was eager to find a solution that benefited everyone and apologizing for comments that suggested otherwise.
“There were other outside groups talking about possibly ways for him to leave but council never took any of that up,” said Fant.
County Attorney Mark Tollison confirms this.
“It really was just an inquiry and there was no real interest on County Council to pursue it. The idea never went anywhere,” said Tollison.
Dill says something like this isn’t in the Council’s power anyway.
“We can’t buy out a contract to my knowledge of anyone except the County Administrator, the County Attorney, and the Clerk of Council.”
The bigger problem for some is that these recordings exist at all.
“This is what happens when people endeavor to play a form of rumored Chicago style politics in Greenville. Secret phone call recordings only show a level of shadiness and corruption,” said activist U.A. Thompson.
“It’s a little disappointing to think that elected officials cannot have an open conversation with each other without fear of being recorded,” said Fant.
Lewis’ attorney Rauch Wise over the phone today says he’s aware of the tapes but hasn’t listened to them personally.
Governor Henry McMaster suspended Lewis following his indictment. His office referred 7News to a previous statement in which the governor said he would have removed Lewis if he’d had the power to.
The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office declined to comment on this story.
Lewis’ trial starts Monday in Greenville County.