FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — The hiring of Florence County Councilman Al Bradley to lead the Florence Housing Authority earlier this year does not present a conflict of interest, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“We do not see a specific and identifiable interest that creates a conflict of interest requiring a waiver of a HUD requirement,” Eric Bickley, director of HUD’s public housing program center, wrote in a Sept. 28 letter to the authority’s attorney, who had requested a review of the hiring in June.
Housing Authority commissioner Jerrod Moultrie provided News13 with a copy of the letter from HUD, along with the following statement.
“I am writing this email as an individual board member and by no means am speaking for the board,” Moultrie said. “As a Board member of the Florence Housing Authority, I think our integrity was [in] question about hiring Dr. Bradley. Many raised eyebrows and questioned our judgment but we stood [for] what we felt was right which is the policy of the agency.”
Bradley defended himself in July, saying that the county council does not give any money, nor does it appoint members or have any relationship with the housing authority. At the time, he said his expertise in the political realm should add value and allow him to make decisions that benefit the authority and its residents.
In his letter to the authority’s attorney, Bickley said future conflicts could arise if Bradley retains both jobs, but he outlined steps that would need to be taken if that happens.
“The clearest way to avoid a future conflict, or even the appearance of a conflict, would
be for this individual to resign from their position on the County Council,” Bickley wrote. “However, if the individual remains in the dual role of FHA Executive Director and member of the County Council, there may be future instances in which a conflict could arise. As a result, the
FHA Executive Director would have to be willing to recuse himself from matters where
there could be a conflict and the FHA Board would have to exercise proper oversight to
ensure a conflict does not arise.”
On Thursday, the authority’s board of commissioners approved a 2023-24 budget resolution that includes a 2% pay raise for the agency’s employees.
The authority employs more than 70 people and provides affordable housing opportunities across Florence, Marlboro and Chesterfield counties. It owns or manages nearly 1,100 public housing units, according to its website.
Dennis Bright is a Digital Producer at News13. He joined the team in May 2021. Dennis is a West Virginia native and a graduate of Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. Follow Dennis on, Facebook, X, formerly Twitter, and read more of his work here.