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Chaos and Controversy Surrounds Chamber of Commerce

Daniel Prince

Executive Director Stephanie Rhinehart placed on administrative leave pending investigation by board

There is a level of chaos and controversy at the Union County Chamber of Commerce following an emergency meeting of its Board of Directors Friday afternoon. Not many undisputed facts are known at this time.

A post Saturday on the Union County Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page stated that its board “feels the need to set the record straight in regard to some false and misleading statements that have been publicly touted regarding the recent events at the Union County Chamber of Commerce.” It listed 7 different points, presumably in rebuttal to the statements it feels is false or misleading. In its post, the board stated that it called an emergency meeting Friday afternoon to investigate what it called inconsistencies in the use of their funds. As a result of the meeting, the statement said that Executive Director Stephanie Rhinehart was placed on administrative leave until the board could “gather all of the facts and be in a position to determine exactly what was going on”. Even this seems to be a matter of some controversy, as Rhinehart, in a comment on the post, stated that she was not notified that she was on administrative leave and said that she was removed from the Facebook page and had her email account deleted. In its statement, the board also stated that the acting president of the board resigned prior to the meeting. According to the Chamber of Commerce’s website, the board president is Beth Lancaster. The statement noted that the organization is a 501(c)6 organization, which is nonprofit. It is not controlled or operated by a government entity. Funds originate primarily from its shareholders, as the businesses who join the Chamber pay dues. It is worth noting that the Chamber does receive government funding, with a $25,000 allocation in the county’s most recent budget and $40,000 in the city’s most recent budget.

WBCU News will be reaching out to those involved in the controversy to try and find out more facts in this case, and we will bring them to you as they become available.

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