Chairman Summey responds to backlash over released recordings

Published: Oct. 14, 2016 at 2:06 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 14, 2016 at 3:15 PM EDT
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Local activists are calling for Charleston County Chairman Elliot Summey's resignation Thursday evening after audio recordings of Chairman were published.

The NAACP and the the National Action Network said they were upset with things Chairman Summey said during a meeting with a group that did not want the I-526 extended.

The groups said Summey talked about not wanting to extend the highway, a project that he had been advocating for.

"He wants 526 to be extended on the other hands he's talking about never wanting it to be extended," Elder Johnson with NAN said.

The groups also said Summey also made comments regarding race that warrants Summey to resign from his position as chairman.

"We feel that this has warranted Mr. Summey resign his position as county councilman," Johnson said, "What troubles me is he played the black community and he bragged about it."

Here is a portion of what NAN said the audio recording said.

"South Carolina politics is about race whether you want to believe it or not it's about controlling race. It's sad but it's true."

They also said the recording also included a conversation about Summey being encouraged to run on a Democratic ticket rather than a Republican one.

"One of the biggest Republican consultants, told me to run as a democrat because he looked at the numbers and said you had 43% African Americans in your district, they are all voting for you." "It doesn't matter what you say to them, don't even concentrate on them I need you to go walk these white neighborhoods and knock on these doors that vote will be here and d%^it I ran against a white female and an African American independent and I got sixty percent of the vote."

Chairman Summey told Live 5 News he was baited into talking about these issues, and he does not plan on resigning.

"In that during that meeting the reason they were asking me about South Carolina politics is they were asking me they were opposed to Ms. Johnson. Folks don't like Ms. Johnson and they don't like me either and they were asking me why she keeps getting reelected and she lives in a majority minority district that was formed by a court order, and so I was telling them there were folks asking me how does the race work how does race work in politics in South Carolina. I was very baited into it and it was really a history lesson," Summey said

He also said he apologizes for his comments.

"I apologize if anyone took any offense by what I said. What I said about race and politics in South Carolina was more an anecdote on history. It wasn't racially motivated in any anyway, " Summey said.

He also said this meeting was during a time when the 526 project was dead.

"There was no money going to the project, it was dead and it appeared to be there wasn't going to be a resolution to it. So when the project is off my job as a chairman is to protect the money to find good road solutions for this community," Summey said. "They used things that were said 14 months ago in a completely different setting in a different time and when the road was in a different place."

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