Aiken probate judge gets ethics warning

COLUMBIA — Aiken County Probate Judge Sue Roe committed an unintentional ethics violation during the election season last fall, according to the state Ethics Commission.


South Carolna law prohibits elected officials from using their position or office for financial gain. That means a public official isn’t allowed to use government equipment, materials, personnel or office buildings in a campaign.

The consent order says Roe’s re-election Web site listed the address of the Aiken County Probate Judge’s Office in a flier on the site.

Roe, a Democrat, said her campaign made the mistake, according to the ethics order. She said she “would take immediate action to correct this error,” according to the agency order, which also said she did so.

Dennis Saylor, the chairman of the Aiken County Republican Party, had filed the complaint against her Aug. 29 before her re-election Nov. 6.

Roe signed a consent order March 13 with the ethics agency to pay a $100 administrative fee. It issued her a written warning and directed her to be “vigilant” of the Ethics Reform Act.

“Being unaware that a violation existed does not change the fact that there was an ethics violation for which I am accountable,” stated Roe in the agreement. “I regret that this occurred, as it is an embarrassment to me.”

Roe was elected to the office Jan. 1, 1984. Before that she spent 20 years in the Aiken County Clerk of Court office, including 10 years as the clerk. She also served as president of the state Association of Counties.

In November, Roe defeated Republican Jane Page Thompson by about 7,000 votes or 53-45 percent.

Probate court handles licenses, estates, guardianships of incompetents, settlements less than $25,000 and involuntary commitments to institutions for mentally ill and/or people who are chemically dependent.