S.C. Ports V.P. Has Ties to Trucking Firm with Port Customers

October 11, 2013

Investigative Reports

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Charleston PortLike father, like son, as the old saying goes.

Paul McClintock is a senior vice president and the chief commercial officer at the S.C. Ports Authority, a state agency that owns and operates ports in Charleston and Georgetown. He is listed on the Port Authority’s website as being part of the agency’s “executive management,” just three spots down on the list from Jim Newsome, the authority’s president and CEO.

McClintock’s son, Paul McClintock Jr., heads Southeast business development for LoadMatch Logistics Inc., based in Wilmington, N.C. LoadMatch is the parent company of three trucking companies, including Veterans Express Inc., based in North Charleston. McClintock Jr.’s territory includes the North Charleston location.

Launched in March, Veterans Express serves the shipping industry at ports in Charleston, S.C., and Norfolk, Va., according to LoadMatch’s website. S.C. Secretary of State records reviewed by The Nerveshow that Veterans Express was registered with the state on Jan. 4.

In response to a recent request by The Nerve under the S.C. Freedom of Information Act, the Ports Authority listed Veterans Express as one of 11 trucking companies that have used Veterans Terminal, a 110-acre site located at the former U.S. Navy base on the Cooper River in North Charleston, last year or this year.

And the ties between the senior McClintock and Veterans Express may be even closer:  A screenshot taken in April and obtained recently by The Nerve of a company-profile database managed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) listed the physical and mailing address of Veterans Express as the same address listed in Charleston County property records as the Mt. Pleasant home of the senior McClintock.

When The Nerve used the same FMCSA database in August, the address for Veterans Express was listed as its current North Charleston location on Azalea Drive.

In an interview Thursday with The Nerve, LoadMatch Logistics CEO Gary Winstead said he knows the senior McClintock, and that McClintock’s son is an outside salesman for LoadMatch whose territory runs from “South Carolina south.”

But Winstead, who is listed in S.C. Secretary of State records as the vice president of Veterans Express, said he has never discussed business matters involving S.C. ports with the senior McClintock, and denied that the Ports Authority has shown his company any favoritism.

“We don’t have my business in our portfolio of customers that we didn’t have to compete for tooth and nail,” he said, adding that while “it appears there’s potential impropriety, I can assure you that never exists.”

Winstead confirmed that the FMCSA company-profile database initially listed the address of Veterans Express as the senior McClintock’s home. But he explained that McClintock’s son was living with his parents at the time, and that the current location of Veterans Express had not yet been established.

Neither the senior McClintock, whose annual salary with the Ports Authority is listed at $245,000, nor his son responded to multiple messages on Wednesday from The Nerve seeking comment.

The Nerve in August revealed that in a pending case before the Federal Maritime Commission, the senior McClintock is accused by Japan-based Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd., a major shipping company that he worked for before joining the Ports Authority in 2009, of helping to orchestrate an elaborate routing scheme that cost his former employer millions. An administrative law judge in July dismissed the complaint, but Mitsui has asked the full Maritime Commission to reverse the judge’s decision.

The Nerve on Wednesday sent written questions to Newsome, who became the Ports Authority president and CEO in 2009, asking him about his knowledge of Veterans Express and whether he believed the ties to the senior McClintock posed a conflict of interest under state ethics laws. Newsome, who receives an annual salary of $370,000, did not respond.

Under state law (Section 8-13-700), no public official or employee may “knowingly use his official office, membership, or employment to obtain an economic interest for himself, a family member, an individual with whom he is associated, or a business with which he is associated.”

Another section of the law says no public official or employee may “make, participate in making, or in any way attempt to use his office, membership or employment to influence a government decision in which he, a family member, an individual with whom he is associated, or a business with which he is associated has an economic interest.”

The Nerve has cited that law in raising questions this year about potential conflicts of interest involving state lawmakers, including House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston; Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence; and Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg.

In an Oct. 1 written response to The Nerve’s FOIA request, Michele Coon, a legal assistant in the Ports Authority’s Office of General Counsel, said the agency “does not coordinate business between customers and trucking companies at VT (Veterans Terminal).”

Coon also said the Ports Authority “does not register or log the trucking companies” that use Veterans Terminal, noting that the list of trucking companies provided to The Nerve was “created from multiple documents and contains only responsive information to your request.”

“We cannot confirm the list includes all trucking companies,” she added.

Reach Brundrett at (803) 254-4411 or rick@thenerve.org. Follow him on Twitter @thenerve_rick. Follow The Nerve on Facebook and Twitter @thenervesc.