Paul McCorkle says he never tried to circumvent the law regarding his recent involvement in the purchase of a new bulldozer for McDuffie County.
"I was merely trying to save taxpayers' money," said Commissioner McCorkle after phone calls by concerned residents triggered an in-depth inquiry by The McDuffie Mirror. "I was never trying to intentionally do anything wrong or give that impression to anyone."
The two persons who telephoned the newspaper did not wish to have their names used in the story.
They both felt the newspaper should question Mr. McCorkle about how he wanted to sell the bulldozer to the county. When he couldn't because state law forbids such transactions because he is an elected official thatsame piece of equipment ended up being purchased through an auction company.
Mr. McCorkle admitted he had initially wanted to sell the bulldozer to the county, but that when he found out he couldn't do such legally, simply backed off the idea.
"I think I should have been allowed by law to sell the bulldozer to the county, but since the law said I couldn't, I decided to hold onto it a little longer," Mr. McCorkle said.
He said the bulldozer had a listed price of $39,500, but that he had quoted a selling price to the county of $37,500.
At the time, the bulldozer had a total of 2020 hours
The commissioner revealed he later sold the bulldozer and several other pieces of equipment to Rebel Auction Company in Hazelhurst, Ga.
He received a check for $113,676.25 for the sale of such equipment.
After being contacted by the newspaper regarding questions about the bulldozer, Mr. McCorkle talked openly about what took place and later telephoned the newspaper to say that he would like to talk to fellow commissioners about the issue before the story broke publicly.
He was granted the request.
One of the concessions, however, involved Mr. McCorkle saying he was going to ask commissioners to rescind a vote that three of them had taken at an earlier meeting last month to purchase the bulldozer from a company that bought it through the auction company.
That never happened.
When Mr. McCorkle addressed the issue at the Oct. 19 commission meeting, he discussed various facts regarding the 2003 Komatsu D37PX-21 bulldozer, but decided not to ask commissioners to actually rescind their earlier vote.
"I figured what had been done was above board and there was no reason to call for another vote," Mr. McCorkle said.
Mr. McCorkle said he believes saving the taxpayers' money is a big part of his job as an elected official.
"It's a responsibility I take very seriously," Mr. McCorkle said.
"I plan to save the taxpayers of this county money in every way I possibly can. That's all I was doing here."
He denied ever trying to circumvent the law so that McDuffie County Public Works Director Eric Reisinger could get the bulldozer he had tried out when Mr. McCorkle had it through his business, Interstate Equipment Company, located just outside Thomson near Interstate 20.
Mr. Reisinger later contacted the newspaper and supported Mr. McCorkle's claim that he wasn't doing anything wrong.
"He was trying to sell this county a good piece of equipment that we needed and saving the taxpayers money at the same time," Mr. Reisinger said.
"Nothing was wrong with that. As a county department head, I try to do that anytime I purchase anything. I want to spend the taxpayers' money wisely. And that's what I do."
Mr. Reisinger said he was never told by Mr. McCorkle where he could find the bulldozer, which the county ultimately paid $37,500.
The county public works director said he found out where the bulldozer was on his own.
The bulldozer later was purchased and retrieved from Hazelhurst, Ga.
It was purchased after three sealed bids were put out.
McDuffie County Attorney Sammy Fowler reportedly had urged that the bulldozer be purchased in that manner, according to County Manager Don Norton.