A Moncks Corner legislator seeking reelection to a fourth term in the South Carolina House has resigned his seat following sexual harassment accusations by a page.
State Rep. Eddie Southard, R-Moncks Corner, submitted a letter of resignation to the House Speaker’s office Wednesday. He has not been present in the House chamber since the accusation was made public late last week. Southard’s decision came after a closed-door House Ethics Committee meeting Wednesday morning.
“Please allow this letter to serve as confirmation of my intent to resign my position from the House of Representatives,” the message states. “I hereby tender my resignation from the South Carolina House, effective immediately.”
House Speaker Jay Lucas confirmed Southard’s resignation in a brief email. “I received and accepted Representative Southard’s resignation earlier today from the South Carolina House of Representatives and have no further comment on the matter.”
The specific allegations against Southard have not been made public, other than that a complaint was filed by a female House page. When asked about the accusation last week by the Charleston Post & Courier, Southard did not wish to respond and insisted the complaint should not be made public until an investigation was finished.
Southard has represented District 100 in Berkeley County since 2011, winning a special election after the death of longtime State Rep. David Umphlett. He has spent the past four years largely as a moderate conservative backbencher who often questions budget votes. No other candidates are listed as challenging him in either the GOP primary or the general election. A South Carolina Election Commission spokesman said Southard has not yet formally withdrawn from the race that would prompt his replacement on the ballot.
He is the second legislator to resign over a harassment claim in less than a year. Former State Rep. Nelson Hardwick, R-Surfside Beach, stepped down in May 2015 after a female House budget staffer filed a complaint against him. In that case, a House Ethics Committee investigation found the accusation “valid,” and Hardwick resigned his seat. He was later indicted by the state Attorney General’s Office.