The commission voted 7-0 following a nearly two-hour hearing in county council chambers where petitioner Ernest Yarborough presented his case against the chairwoman.
For her part, McDaniel stormed out of the hearing only minutes after it convened when her request for a continuance was denied. She left the room in spite of warnings from the chair of the commission, Redden Thames, that she was under subpoena.
Thames later said that, on advice from the county’s attorney, an arrest warrant would not be issued for McDaniel’s arrest.
According to the school board’s official policy (Policy BBBC), “If a board member’s permanent residence ceases to be in his/her voting district, the member will resign immediately.”
Phone calls and emails to McDaniel asking if she indeed intends to resign were not answered at press time, neither were calls to vice chair Rickey Johnson.
Other board members, however, were clear on the matter.
“She should have resigned last night (Tuesday night’s school board meeting), point blank,” said board member Danielle Miller, “especially when you know you’re doing something wrong.”
Board member Polly Parker said it was only a matter of time.
“We can’t do anything until the paperwork comes in from the Election Commission,” Parker said. “Then, she’s gone.”
Yarborough called several witnesses during the proceedings, beginning with Debbie Stidham, custodian of records with the Fairfield County Voter Registration Office. Her testimony confirmed documents submitted into evidence by Yarborough that indicated McDaniel had registered to vote in Fairfield County in 1978, registering at the address 2247 Kennedy Road.
Testimony from a second witness, Elizabeth McDonald, a deputy assessor with the Richland County Tax Assessor’s office, confirmed that McDaniel had, in 1990, applied for a special assessment for legal residence in Richland County.
At that point, Yarborough contended, McDaniel’s voter registration in Fairfield County technically became null and void, as she had, under penalty of perjury, signed a document claiming residency in Richland County.
Further testimony from McDonald revealed that McDaniel did, in 2002, notify the assessor’s office that she was returning to Fairfield County, and that her legal residence would no longer be in Richland County.
However, Yarborough noted, at no time did McDaniel ever re-register as a legal voter in Fairfield County, which she was required to do by law.
Other witnesses included Lisa Sloan, an employee with South Carolina Electric and Gas, who confirmed that McDaniel’s account with them for the address at 1211 Metze Road, Columbia, is still active and has been so since 1988.
Davis Anderson, Deputy County Administrator, also testified to McDaniel’s employment with the county from 1997 to 2002 and that the address on her application forms was 1211 Metze Road. Anderson’s testimony, along with the testimony of Willard Bailey, former Data Processing Director for Fairfield County, confirmed that, during McDaniel’s tenure with the county, certain electronic equipment was installed in her home that would allow her to remotely access the county’s computer database. This equipment, Bailey said, was installed at McDaniel’s Metze Road address. The equipment was recovered from the same address following her termination in 2002.
In his summation, Yarborough also presented a current Columbia phone book, listing “A.E. McDaniel” at the Metze Road address.
But it was the combined testimony of Stidham and McDonald that proved to be McDaniel’s undoing.
“Walking out was the equivalent of taking the Fifth,” Yarborough said. “She cannot legally sit on that board. If she doesn’t resign, I will take appropriate action.”
Yarborough said he plans to seek a temporary restraining order to prevent McDaniel from returning to her seat on the board.
Kadena Woodard, whose petition was also scheduled to be heard Wednesday, excused all of her subpoenas and only submitted documents as evidence against McDaniel.
Following a brief recess, the commission returned its unanimous decision. Prior to doing so, Thames said the commission had given McDaniel every opportunity to answer her petitioners, but that “she has abandoned that pursuit.”