Throwback Thursday: Charleston airport board’s history of questionable practices

January 30, 2020

Inside Insight

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Airplane over runway

This week, the Charleston County Aviation Authority (which oversees the Charleston airport) named a new CEO to replace outgoing CEO Sen. Paul Campbell, who recently announced that he is retiring after his contract ends in June, though he plans to continue in an advisory role through the end of the year.

The new CEO, Elliott Summey, sits on the Aviation Authority board – as does his father, Keith Summey. Both enjoy ex-officio board seats by virtue of their positions as the County Council chairman and mayor of North Charleston, respectively. As South Carolina Policy Council (the parent organization of The Nerve) President Ashley Landess observed to Fox 24 in Charleston, this hire (and the process that was used) carries multiple concerns – nepotism, transparency and dual office-holding, to name a few.

The Charleston County Aviation Authority has a longstanding history of questionable practices, which The Nerve has documented over the years. For instance, this week’s throwback is a 2013 story highlighting potential conflicts of interest involving former Aviation Authority member and ex-state representative Chip Limehouse – who, incidentally, co-authored a 2007 bill that placed him on the board.

All in the Family: Charleston Lawmaker’s Ties to Relative’s Airport-Related Businesses

In 2007, longtime S.C. Rep. Chip Limehouse co-authored a bill that put himself on the Charleston County Aviation Authority, which owns and operates Charleston International Airport.

More recently, as the immediate past chairman of the aviation authority board of directors, the Charleston County Republican was at the forefront of a $200 million makeover plan for the airport and a separate $12.5 million deal to sell airport land to aerospace giant Boeing.

“This is a major Christmas present to the Lowcountry,” Limehouse said at a December board meeting about the proposed sale of 320 acres to Boeing, according to a Charleston Post & Courier article. “We’ve tied our hat to the rocket ship Boeing.”

The Boeing land deal and airport expansion also could be financially beneficial to airport-related businesses connected to a close relative of Limehouse, an investigation by The Nerve has found.

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