SC Rep. Harold Mitchell, D-Spartanburg, talks to the media about the tax evasion allegations. (FOX Carolina)
SPARTANBURG, SC (FOX Carolina) -
Warrants have not yet been secured for a South Carolina representative accused of tax evasion.
District 31 Rep. Harold Mitchell, D-Spartanburg, said that he learned Tuesday that warrants have been issued against him by the state Revenue Department.
Mitchell said in a press release Wednesday that he first learned of the warrants from his lawyer. He said that since then he has been gathering tax returns, receipts and any documentation that he can to help the state.
However, when Mitchell reported to the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office on Thursday to turn himself in to authorities on the charges, he found out that warrants for his arrest had not been secured yet.
Mitchell's attorney said he was not sure why the warrants had not been issued yet. He said that he's been told by a representative of the Revenue Department that nothing else will happen with the case this week.
Mitchell's attorney said the investigation into the representative's finances began last June. He said that the Revenue Department was looking into finances from 2005 to 2008.
The attorney said he finds it strange that the Department of Revenue never told his client that he owed any money to the state. He said in most cases, people will make arrangements to pay back the money rather than being arrested.
Mitchell said he wants to be open about the allegations because he has nothing to hide. He has said he believes the allegations are about his personal finances.
When asked if the charges are politically motivated, Mitchell responded:
"I do find it ironic that on the day that Governor Haley calls me her friend is the day that I'm being processed by her department for tax evasion, and when I'm in Columbia I can't even get invited to the dinner table."
Haley's spokesman, Rob Godfrey, called Mitchell's situation unfortunate.
"The Department of Revenue does not issue warrants without cause, and certainly not for any reason other than a violation of the law," Godfrey said. "The governor considers state Rep. Mitchell an friend, despite their political differences."
After his press conference, Mitchell was surrounded and encouraged by supporters. He was then led in prayer.
Chairman of the House Ethics Committee Rep. Roland Smith, R-Aiken, said the charges could affect Mitchell's role at the Statehouse.
"If he is officially indicted, the speaker could suspend him from office," Smith said. "If he is cleared by court process, then he will be reinstated. Legal staff with the House Ethics Committee will begin looking into the matter (Thursday) morning."
Having served in the South Carolina House of Representatives since 2005, Mitchell has worked on education and public works committees. He also chaired the Affordable Housing Caucus.
Tuesday, July 29 2014 5:50 AM EDT2014-07-29 09:50:38 GMT
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