The mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, Steve Benjamin, has parted ways with the law firm of Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein, according to The State.
Benjamin joined the law firm in May of 2012 as ‘special counsel.’ The firm has offices in both Carolinas. When he joined the firm, a press release was issued touting Benjamin as an “exceptional lawyer and civic leader.” There was no release this time.
Benjamin ended his tenure with the law firm on June 30, according to mayoral spokesman Michael Wukela.
Just weeks ago, Benjamin’s name appeared in a federal corruption trial involved an unpublicized trip to Orlando, Florida in 2010. When he was in Orlando, Benjamin visited a strip club as the guest of a developer from the state. He has yet to be charged with a crime.
In the statement released Monday, Benjamin said, “I voluntarily left my position at Parker Poe in order to pursue other private business opportunities. I still enjoy a great relationship with PPAB.”
Parker Poe did not comment on the news. It was the second firm Benjamin left since taking over as mayor in 2010.
Benjamin joined Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart in August of 2010. The managing shareholder of the firm’s Columbia office, Ted Speth, said at the time: “Having Mayor Benjamin join us is a major boon to the firm and businesses in the state.”
Benjamin left the firm in May of 2012.
In regards to the trial in which Benjamin’s name came up, Richard Zahn testified that he flew the mayor to Orlando in his own jet. Zahn is now a convicted felon. He also flew then-South Carolina State board chairman Jonathan Pinson and two other state officials to Florida. Pinson was convicted on 29 felony counts on July 3 with the help of Zahn’s testimony.
Zahn testified at the trial that he spent $8,000 on the trip for the jet, dinner, hotel and entertainment at a strip club. He also paid two strippers to come back to the hotel room to visit with Benjamin, himself and Pinson.