FOLLY BEACH, SC (WCSC) - Folly Beach City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to censure Mayor Pro Tem Eddie Ellis.
"I committed no crime," Ellis said following the passing of the resolution which kicks Ellis off the position of Mayor Pro Tem but retains Ellis' seat on council."I want to apologize for anybody I've offended."
The resolution stems from other council members reporting that Ellis has engaged in bad behavior including threatening council members and their families. Ellis has denied the accusations.
"Council felt it would be irresponsible because of the behavior that was exhibited in the meeting and outside the meeting to allow him to actually, potentially be the Mayor," explains Sandra Senn, attorney for the City of Folly Beach.
Last Friday, Ellis filed a lawsuit against five council members in an effort to stop their efforts to remove him as Mayor Pro Tem.
The lawsuit filed on Ellis' behalf states the city is retaliating against him for his opinions on controversial matters, and his possible candidacy for mayor. The suit names council members Pennel Clamp, Sandra Hickman, Paul Hume, Tom Scruggs, Dale Stuckey and the City of Folly Beach as defendants.
According to the suit, the five council members agreed to co-sponsor two resolutions seeking to remove Ellis from office, and did so in a secret session out of the "public's opportunity to observe the process."
Ellis' lawyer, Thomas Goldstein, says the council members violated the Freedom of Information Act by holding the sessions in private
"It had all five names on it. How did that happen? I mean what's the explanation for that."
The suit came after council members gave sworn statements regarding incidents they've had with Ellis.
City Council Member Pennell Clamp claimed in an affidavit that Ellis called him on June 25 and called Clamp "every dirty word in the book," and used the "n-word." According to Clamp, Ellis said he hoped to see his name in the newspaper the next day in the obituaries.
In another affidavit, City Council Member Tom Scruggs reported that four years ago, Ellis came to his home and pounded on the front door while screaming that he "had better open the door."
Scruggs said before the incident, Ellis had left messages on his voice mail "directing profanity" at Scruggs due to a stance Scruggs had on an issue. According to Scruggs, Ellis later apologized for the incident.
City Council Member Dale Stuckey said in an affidavit that Ellis let a message on her voice mail on June 27 at 1:44 a.m. in which Ellis wished Stuckey "would go back to where it is that [she] came from."
According to Stuckey, the message was two minutes long with Ellis ending the message by saying,"I'll see you around." Stuckey said she found the message "not only frightening but also disturbing and non-professional."
Ellis' lawyer says they will go through with the lawsuit to reverse city council's decision Tuesday night.
He says they should have a ruling by Friday, August 2nd. Ellis will continue to serve as a council member