Keep saying no: Beaufort County school board right to deny money for Moss in FBI probe

A file photo of Beaufort County schools superintendent Jeff Moss
A file photo of Beaufort County schools superintendent Jeff Moss

The Beaufort County Board of Education is right to stiff-arm former Superintendent Jeff Moss’ claim for $35,000 for personal legal representation connected to FBI subpoenas of the school district.

Moss left the district in July following five years of tumultuous leadership with a financial settlement of some $280,000.

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But in September, he asked the school district to pay a high-powered lawyer in an effort to keep him from facing criminal charges. No charges have been filed. And the high-powered attorney, E. Bart Daniel of Charleston, a former U.S. Attorney in South Carolina, indicated to Moss charges seem unlikely with the information he had at the time.

That lawyer fee would be $35,000 plus expenses, and would not include representation should Moss actually face a criminal charge in the FBI probe.

The request came to his old ally, board chairman Earl Campbell, with Moss’ typical heavy-handed pressure, including a strong hint that the district might be sued if it does not give him what he wants.

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He said, among other things, that his future employability is at stake. If Moss wants to see who is responsible for his future employability, he should look into a mirror, not to the taxpayers of Beaufort County.

We’re encouraged that the board stood up to Moss for once. It said the current situation does not trigger a clause in his resignation settlement that calls for the school district to pay for legal fees in connection with work he did in good faith for the school district.

“As far as I’m aware, there is no legal case going against him. He hasn’t been charged with any crime, so there’s nothing to defend him for at this moment,” board member Mary Cordray said.

With Moss also now the subject of another South Carolina ethics complaint, the last thing the school board needs to do is start writing blank checks for Moss’ legal representation.