Lawsuit against Charleston County Aviation Authority board to be dismissed

By Lauren Ratcliffe
Published March 6, 2013

Charleston Circuit Judge Markley Dennis plans to dismiss a lawsuit against lawmakers serving on the Charleston County Aviation Authority according to email sent between the judge’s law clerk and attorneys involved in the case.

The email, dated March 1, said the judge was planning on dismissing the lawsuit based on the South Carolina Public Interest Foundation’s lack of standing. The email also requested that Michael Anzelmo, attorney for House Speaker Bobby Harrell, submit an order to that effect.

“Please have the order reflect arguments from your memorandum related to lack of Plaintiffs’ standing, but please make sure that the proposed order also reflects that this Court is not ruling on any other matters,” the email read.

Anzelmo said he could not comment on pending litigation. James Carpenter, attorney for the S.C. Public Interest Foundation, said an appeal was probable but could not comment further on the case.

“Obviously I thought we had standing or I wouldn’t have brought the lawsuit,” he said.

The lawsuit began July 31, 2012 and aims to remove Rep. Chip Limehouse and Sen. Chip Campsen from their position on the board. The two were appointed after a bill passed by the General Assembly in 2007 increased the size of the board. The bill stipulated that the chairman and vice chairman of the Charleston County Legislative Delegation serve on the Aviation Authority board.

The lawsuit claims the bill violated the state constitutional clauses against dual position holding. It also claims the law was unconstitutional because the bill was specific to only Charleston County

The 2007 legislation was sponsored by Limehouse and vetoed by then Gov. Mark Sanford. The veto was overruled by votes in the state House and Senate.

In the fall, Campsen appointed attorney Ben Hagood to serve as his proxy and issued a letter stating that he could not personally serve because he felt his appointment violated the constitution.

Limehouse recently served as chairman of the board, until Charleston attorney Andy Savage was elected to serve. Limehouse appointed Maj. Gen. James E. Livingston to serve as his proxy on the board while he is campaigning for Congress.

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