Johnson says he was blindsided by Tucker’s allegations

Columbia County Administrator Scott Johnson said he was blindsided by claims he created a hostile work environment by former Emergency Services Division director Pam Tucker, after nine years of working together.

 

Tucker and Johnson were both accused of creating hostile work environments. The first allegations came from Tucker’s deputy director, Rusty Welsh, against her in January, followed later that month by allegations from Tucker against Johnson.

Results of both individual investigations, released at a news conference by county officials Wednesday, stated there was no evidence of a hostile work environment.

In an interview with The Augusta Chronicle on Thursday, Johnson said he still finds it hard to believe what has happened, adding that he thinks Tuckerwas also blindsided by Welsh’s accusations.

“I was completely shocked, and I was completely caught off guard,” Johnson said. “I don’t know if it was just a deflection. I don’t know, but I can tell you thi: In my nine years that I have been here in Columbia County as the county administrator, as the assistant administrator, not one time in that entire nine years had Pam Tucker ever told me that I was hostile, that she was upset with me. That I did anything wrong.

“Now, did I talk to her? Did I coach her during that time? Absolutely, And I did that to every other employee.”

Since the investigations were released, county officials have backed Johnson and stated their disappointment with the way Tucker resigned, first announcing it on social media before she turned in her resignation letter Jan. 31. Her last day on the job was March 1.

Dozens of interviews with county employees were conducted by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, whom the Columbia County Commission hired to undertake the investigation into the allegations of hostile work environment.

Johnson did admit to one allegation in the investigation on Tucker’s charges against him – that he lost his temper three years ago and used profanity while talking to an employee.

He said a conversation with a manager at a party he threw for his wife at the Savannah Rapids Pavilion in 2014 became heated. That piece of “evidence,” however, was an effort to “dig up dirt” on him, he said.

“It’s the only incident out of the entire investigation that came back that anybody can claim that I was ever hostile with them,” Johnson said. “I didn’t cuss at the employee, I used curse words while talking to the employee, and by the way, I have since apologized to that employee, we have since worked together.”

Also included in the investigation are recordings Johnson made of two meetings before Tucker resigned:on Jan. 11 between him and Tucker and on Jan. 19 among him, Tucker and commission Chairman Ron Cross.

Johnson said Tucker had earlier texted him her intentions to resign.

“I felt very strongly that I needed to do that because I was being hit out of left field with a resignation request from Pam,” Johnson said of his decision to record, of which Tucker was unaware. “And I was really surprised. … And because of that, because it was so awkward, I just felt like I needed to make sure I have the facts straight. I needed to make sure what was going to be said later was really said.”

Johnson said he felt he had to protect himself because of Tucker’s popularity with the news media and the public.

“Because what I feared would happen, did,” said Johnson, who said at the news conference Wednesday that he has received death threats since Tucker’s resignation. “The public perception was that Pam is a great person. And she is. She was a great EMA director. We still hate that she’s gone. People sided with her because of her popularity. Had I not had that tape, I think things would have been different.”

Tucker says in the report that she has recordings of events that prove Johnson created a hostile work environment but that she refused to give them to the investigator.

Johnson said that he has considered a lawsuit to clear his name because he believes Tucker’s intention was to ruin him professionally since all of her claims were against his duties as county administrator.

“I think there is actual malice here,” he said. “I think she intended to harm me. I don’t want any money from her. I just want my name clear.”

Tucker did not reply to requests for an interview after the investigation results were released.

“Once I’m provided a copy of the report, my plan is to read it – and then move on,” said a post Tuesday on her Facebook page. “The people of Columbia County deserve the best that all public servants have to offer and getting caught up in drama is just not my priority.”

Columbia County officials find no evidence to support hostile work claims
Harry Bailey 5 months ago
You know, this rarely happens, but I've just got a baaaaad feeling about this guy.  I just don't trust him.  I've heard him a couple of times, and he just comes across as smarmy and totally disingenuous.  And, no, this has NOTHING to do with Pam Tucker....this is solely on Scott Johnson.
Having said/felt that, I can't help but wonder about the judgment of the officials who have pledged their support to Johnson.
Now, honestly, I might be totally wrong here, but I just feel he's lying.
We'll see.
Michael RAMP 5 months ago
Strange twist. Maybe Johnson was purposely recording and being overly
supportive to cover his rear. Something really stinks
SUSAN & LARR MOORE 5 months ago
Mr. Bailey, you have a bad feeling, your perception is that he's smarmy, and  you feel like he's lying. 

You don't say that you've met him, only heard him. You wonder about his supporters, but you fail to offer any evidence of wrongdoing, only your feelings. 

I don't support either one of them, but based on the tapes I heard today, it seems Mr. Johnson has been unfairly maligned.

The audio is real evidence from which you can then form an opinion. Feelings can lead you astray.
B. M. Michales 5 months ago
Johnson reminds me of another State Patrol guy, Donnie Smith. We all know how that worked out. Time for Johnson to hit the road.
Roland SASSER 5 months ago
I'll be the first to admit that I was biased in favor of Pam based on the job she did for the county. I'll wait and hear her side of the story. She won't be the first individual who was great at their job and not so great at relationships with coworkers. With that said, these dozens of interviews are with people who still work with/for Johnson?
Morris Jones 5 months ago
Why does Mrs. Tucker not give her tapes to the investigators?
B. M. Michales 5 months ago
Duncan, Cross, Morris and Johnson have their own problems. The county would be much better off without them. Vote out the ones you can.

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Fri, 07/21/2017 - 22:09

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