At least for now, no charges of tax evasion have been filed against South Carolina State Representative Harold Mitchell (D-Spartanburg).
Moments before Mitchell was to turn himself in at the Spartanburg County Detention Center, Mitchell’s lawyer Bruce Byrholdt said he received a call from the state Department of Revenue saying that warrants against Mitchell have not been secured. Byrholdt said the investigation started as a simple audit.
It was the latest step in what has become a bizarre case.
It was Mitchell who first informed reporters that he would be facing tax evasion charges. In a statement released by his office Wednesday, the chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus said he would report to an arraignment Thursday at the Spartanburg County Detention Facility.
However, several requests from news outlets (including South Carolina Radio Network) to the Department of Revenue have gone unanswered. The agency has not said publicly that Mitchell is under investigation.
He told reporters he would meet with them as he surrendered to authorities, but that never happened. Byrholdt said Rep. Mitchell got the call from DOR as they were pulling up at the jail. The attorney said the DOR official told Mitchell that there were no warrants for his arrest.
For his part, Mitchell says he is the victim of a “political witch hunt” because of his opposition to Governor Nikki Haley’s handling of a state health insurance exchange. The governor’s spokesman Rob Godfrey denied that, saying Haley “considers State Rep. Mitchell a friend.”
“I find it ironic on a day that Governor Haley calls me her ‘friend’ is a day that I’m being processed by her department for tax evasions,” Mitchell said Thursday, “When I’m in Columbia I can’t even get invited to the dinner table.”
Mitchell said he does not know why he is being targeted, but said the Department of Revenue contacted him in June 2010 with questions about his tax returns from 2005 to 2008. He said his company Regenesis Community Health Center received a $250,000 grant and officials thought he was double-dipping for his personal use.