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Catching Up: SCDOT Executive Director Mabry Resigns (December 2006)

In the midst of moving back to NC and the Christmas holiday, I missed this news story out of South Carolina.

This past December, SCDOT Executive Director Elizabeth (Betty) Mabry resigned in the face of increasing pressure from an audit of the organization.

The audit which was released in November showed that SCDOT wasted over $50 million dollars over a three year period (2002-2005). The heat on Mabry was turned up a few notches as a result of the audit. The loudest calls for her resignation came from the Transportation Commission Chairperson, Tee Hooper. Hooper had been calling for her resignation since March 2005.

His complaints of mismanagement of funds and lowering the agency's morale in February 2005 led to the audit of the agency. Part of his complaint also included a claim that Mabry passed up on the chance to receive $145 million in federal funding.

Immediately after his first calls for resignation, the transportation commission voted unanimously (6-0) in support of Mabry. Hooper in his role only votes in a tie.

After the audit was released, Mabry was adamant in defending her record. “No, I don’t intend to resign at all and I don’t believe that would be in the best interest of the agency,” Mabry said.

She also pointed to her various successes including the 27 in 7 program. 27 years of projects being completed in seven years. She also questioned his past role with HomeGold the parent company of Carolina Investors. The company went bankrupt in 2003 costing more than 8,000 people their jobs. Her concern that Hooper -- appointed by Governor Mark Sanford -- was trying to put the agency under more control of the governor and tarnishing SCDOT's reputation.

However in December, while Mabry was on sick leave, two DOT employees testified in front of a state Senate panel that they were ordered to hide cash balances. A State House panel then directs the state attorney general to investigate the matter. Mabry would resign December 19th after over 20 years with SCDOT.

State highway engineer Tony Chapman was named and currently serves as Interim Executive Director.

Sources: Elizabeth Mabry's Tenure (timeline) ---The State
SCDOT Director Refuses to Step Down ---Construction Equipment Guide (Associated Press)
SCDOT Chairman Calls for Mabry's Resignation ---Construction Equipment Guide (Associated Press)

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