SC transportation chief resigns after DUI arrest



COLUMBIA — The director of South Carolina’s Department of Transportation resigned Friday after a drunken driving arrest.

Robert St. Onge resigned, effective immediately, citing personal reasons, in a letter obtained by The Associated Press. Gov. Nikki Haley notified legislative leaders in a separate letter that Christy Hall will be acting secretary until she finds a permanent replacement.

“Gen. St. Onge is a good man with a lifetime of service to his country, and more recently, our state. That said, we have a no-tolerance policy for our state agency directors, and so Gen. St. Onge has resigned as secretary of transportation,” said Haley spokesman Doug Mayer. “The governor thanks him for his work fixing the serious fiscal issues he inherited at the Department of Transportation – the state is better off because of his service.”

According to the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department Web site, St. Onge was arrested Friday and charged with driving under the influence first offense. A police spokesman did not immediately return messages.

No one answered the phone Friday at St. Onge’s home.

Haley named the retired Army major general to lead the department in January 2011, saying she wanted someone whose decisions could not be bought or swayed. The 66-year-old Lexington resident retired in 2003 after 34 years in the Army. From 2001 to 2003, he was the deputy assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs. His previous posts include commanding general of the 24th Infantry Division at Fort Riley in Kansas, policy director for the Army’s chief of staff and commandant at West Point. Before joining Haley’s administration, he was an executive at defense contractor L-3 Communications.

St. Onge often said his job was to “manage the decline of the state highway system.”