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State senator, airport CEO Campbell charged with DUI, lying to police

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Updated at 4:30 p.m. with incident report details:

The S.C. Department of Public Safety released the incident report today after a Freedom of Information Act request.

Michaela Caddin, the driver who was struck from behind by the Mercedes SUV, said she witnessed the driver and passenger switch seats after the accident, according to the report.

The arresting officer reported that Vicki Campbell said she did not stop in time and struck Caddin’s Jeep from behind.

State Sen. Paul Campbell said that he had not been driving at the time of the accident but that he did get out of the car to check on Caddin. 

The officer reported a strong smell of alcohol coming from the vehicle and slurred speech from Campbell, according to the report.

Original report:

State Sen. Paul Campbell, CEO of the Charleston County Aviation Authority, was arrested Saturday on charges of drunken driving and providing false information to the police, according to the S.C. Highway Patrol.

Campbell’s vehicle rear-ended another vehicle around 9:15 p.m. in congested traffic near mile marker 204 of Interstate 26 westbound in Charleston County, the highway patrol said.

Campbell

The highway patrol reported that there was a discrepancy initially about who was driving Campbell’s vehicle but that the officer, after speaking to both parties involved in the crash, determined Campbell had been the driver.

After giving Campbell a field sobriety test, the officer arrested him and charged him with driving under the influence and providing false information to police. Campbell’s recorded alcohol limit was 0.09; the legal limit in South Carolina is 0.08.

Campbell was transported to the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center and released after posting bail, which was set at $1,457.

Campbell’s wife, Vicki Campbell, also was charged with providing false information to police. She was released at the scene.

The Business Journal submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the S.C. Department of Public Safety for the records related to the incident. Several officers and spokespeople for the department said that the reports are not yet complete, but that they will be made public once they are finished and filed electronically.

Campbell declined to comment on the incident except to say that the trial will be in January and he expects to be cleared.

“I’m innocent; I haven’t done anything wrong,” Campbell said today. “There’s so much out there that’s misleading, half-truths and half-tales, and I want to straighten it all out, but it’s not the appropriate time right now.”

Campbell took the reins at the aviation authority in 2013, while still serving as a state senator. He oversees three airports in the Lowcountry and managed the recent $200 million terminal redevelopment project at Charleston International Airport.

He was set to retire this year, but the board voted to extend his contract by two years so he could oversee further airport expansion and parking projects. He earns $225,000 a year in the aviation authority position.

The authority declined to comment on the incident or whether it will affect Campbell’s position at the airport. Campbell said that he does not expect the incident to affect his employment.

Charleston defense attorney Andy Savage appeared in court for Campbell on Sunday, according to The Post and Courier. Savage sits on the board of the aviation authority.

In an email, Savage said that he will discuss any potential conflicts of interest with his possibly representing Campbell this week and that he would refrain from voting on the board if he does decide to represent him.

“My primary professional role in life is as an attorney and it is not unusual for attorneys who are active in their community to face conflicts. ... Each potential conflict has to be judged on its own merit,” he said. “Right now, it is premature to make a decision.”

Savage added: “I have no idea who may be raising questions about our relationship, but I am not one to shy away from controversy as my only concern is that a client — whoever that may be — is subjected to decisions based on objective facts, not controversy, crusades or media interest.”

Reach Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119.

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