Hilton Head Island Town Councilwoman Kim Likins was granted a temporary restraining order against outspoken town critic Skip Hoagland on Friday morning.
The order comes just a week after Hoagland proclaimed Likins unfit to serve as director of the Boys and Girls Club of Hilton Head Island in phone calls and emails to club leaders, and just days after he was ejected from a Bluffton Town Council meeting for making personal attacks on Mayor Lisa Sulka.
The order bars Hoagland from contacting members of the club's board of directors, publishing defamatory statements or intentionally harassing Likins about her employment with the club.
Hoagland's attorney, Taylor Smith, agreed to the terms at a hearing with Beaufort County Master-in-Equity Marvin Dukes Friday morning, Hoagland said.
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But the terms do not limit Hoagland from criticizing Likins' decisions and work as a councilwoman, he added.
Hoagland takes exception to Likins' vote last month to approve a contract between the town and its designated marketing partner, the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce.
He has led an aggressive and often vitriolic campaign against the chamber, and he turned his sights to Likins last week.
About a week ago, Hoagland called Michael Briggs, board chairman of the Boys and Girls Club of Hilton Head, Briggs said Friday.
"In the course of the phone call, (Hoagland) demanded the club fire Ms. Likins because 'she had lied to the public,' and 'she shouldn't be around children,'" Briggs said. "I said I'd look into the matter and get back to him. I met with people here at the club, and we're obviously not going to fire Kim Likins."
The board of directors will meet next Tuesday, where they expected to formally reject Hoagland's suggestion, Briggs said. The club has an extremely positive relationship with Likins since she became its director in 2011, he added.
Hoagland's call to fire Likins is based on what he calls an "analogy" related to Likins' personal finances and her dealing with the chamber.
Likins told The (Charleston) Post & Courier in 2007 that she and her husband lost $100,000 they had invested with Al Parish, a former Charleston Southern University economist who later admitted to defrauding millions of dollars from hundreds of investors.
In an email attachment circulated to local officials and business leaders this week, Hoagland equates that loss to Likins' vote on the chamber contract, which he claims is also a "scam."
"Kim look at your comments after you lost 100 k (sic) with your own money not tax payers money ... You must be proud of yourself," Hoagland wrote to Likins in an email that included the attachment.
Likins' attorney Greg Alford, who filed for the restraining order on Likins' behalf Thursday; and Likins' personal attorney in Charleston, John Linton, all declined to comment when reached Friday.
The accusations are among the most personal Hoagland has made throughout hundreds of emails to dozens of elected and administrative town officials over the past two months. Yet he said he will continue to draw the analogy
"I don't feel like I've crossed the line with anybody at any time," Hoagland said Friday afternoon. "Anything I say, I'm proud of. Maybe it'll hit home with her, it'll wake her up."
Likins is the first official to take legal action against Hoagland this fall, but several others have rebuked Hoagland's attacks.
Sulka and out-going Bluffton Town Councilman Ted Huffman condemned Hoagland when he was ejected by two police officers during the public comment period of Tuesday's town council meeting.
Hilton Head Mayor David Bennett also implied Hoagland's tactics to oppose the chamber made him a "bully" in an Opinion Page piece published in The Island Packet this fall.
Likins legal costs for the restraining order are likely to be covered by the town because the harassment was incurred through her duties as a public official, administrators said Friday. Those costs were not immediately available Friday.
The council is scheduled to discuss in executive session Tuesday whether to authorize "the retention and payment for personal counsel to protect council members through appropriate legal process from improper harassment by third parties," according to the meeting agenda, released Friday.
If approved by a public vote, the resolution would cover all council members in the event they filed legal action against Hoagland or any other individual, town manager Steve Riley said.
Read the documents:
- Chamber critic Hoagland tossed from Bluffton council meeting + audio, Dec. 9, 2015
- As chamber of commerce contract nears completion, Skip Hoagland brings supporters to Town Council, Oct. 6, 2015
- Hilton Head Mayor David Bennett calls out chamber of commerce, critics over contract controversy, Sept. 29, 2015
- Guest opinion: Hilton Head mayor asks for civility, Sept. 29, 2015