State Rep: 'I Was Asked to Leave' SC Legislature

State Rep. Eric J. Bikas said he was asked by the sergeant-at-arms to leave the Statehouse chamber at the Speaker Bobby Harrell's request in January

Republican State Representative Eric J. Bikas said that he hasn't been to Columbia in two months, after he was asked to leave in January.

Bikas, 25, who represents District 26 area of Greenville and Pickens County, said in January the sergeant-at-arms asked him to leave the Statehouse chamber at the request of House Speaker Bobby Harrell.

"In January I was asked to leave because when the redistricting occurred, I ended up without a district," Bikas said.

Bikas said that it was his understanding that the redistricting would not take place until November and said the move came as a surprise to him, when he was told he didn't have a district anymore.

"Whenever the Speaker said that, I thought it was kind of weird, but he's the speaker," Bikas said.

State House Spokesman Greg Foster said on Wednesday evening that Bikas was asked to leave due to a violation of the chamber's dress code. Foster also said Bikas still has a district to serve.

"When he came to the House Chamber he had on khakis, tennis shoes and golf shirt," Foster said. "A jacket and tie is required in the chamber. He is not the first person who has been asked to leave for improper dress."

When asked about the dress code violation, Bikas said that he felt if it was something as minor as that, Harrell would have called him up informally and talked to him about it.

According to House voting records, Bikas hasn't cast a vote since Jan. 18.

Bikas said he feels the ousting from the chamber followed him speaking out about a spending bill that he had been asked to try and win votes for as a whip. He said the bill concerned the naming of the road and while the naming itself did not cost anything, other aspects of the bill did. He said that when he read the bill, he had asked for clarification because he did not understand how it worked.

Bikas said he was told at that time that the summary of the bill was the property of the committee and that he should work to get votes. He said he didn't agree with it and did not get the votes needed to support the bill during the vote.

"I think that's when they started looking to get rid of my district," Bikas said.

Bikas said the next strike against him would be voicing his opinion on how the chair was chosen for the House Ways and Means committee.

Bikas said that it had been discussed in their whip meeting that they would find out each member to report their vote to the Speaker and then he would report the winner of that vote. Bikas said he told them that it sounded like they would pick the winner, but he said he's learned that's the way the committee races work.

Bikas said soon after he lost all of his committee assignments and was notified through a letter he received in November. He said the 2012 member committee assignments with a handwritten date at the top in the 11th month of 2011 did not show him as being assigned to the Higher Education subcommittee.

Foster said that committee assignments come from the Speaker and that members may serve on only one committee at a time. Foster said Bikas was assigned to the Education and Public Works House Committee and served on the K-12 education subcommittee and the motor vehicles and public works subcommittees. Foster said that to his knowledge there was no change of membership.

Foster said a letter would not have been sent to remove him from his committee. He also said that the only time committee members are reassigned is at the beginning of a new General Assembly.

Foster said that Harrell had reached out to Bikas after he had been absent for a few weeks to remind him that he had to call the clerk's office to request leave.

Foster said that members are asked to call the clerk to report their absence and if they choose, can also provide reason for their absence. He said reasons can be anything from attending the funeral of someone in their district or a conflict with work.

Bikas said that he did speak to Harrell and that Harrell told him that he had to call in to request permission not to attend session meetings.

Bikas said he called a couple of times to make the request, but "I answer to constituents, not the Speaker."

Foster said the Speaker has attempted to contact him at least twice since then and had been unable to reach him.

Bikas said he has sought legal counsel, but at this point just doesn't know where to turn.

"For the past six weeks, I've been trying to figure out if I am a legislator or not," Bikas said. "I've been writing down dates that things happened and put it into perspective."

Bikas, who is still being paid for his in-district work, said he feels badly for his constituents. He said they voted him in to fight for less government spending, which is what he was trying to do when he was asked to leave.

"I run small businesses," Bikas said. "I know what it's like to meet the bottom line. I look at it with a calculator and it doesn't make sense, I'm going to raise my hand on things."

Bikas said that he does plan to return to Columbia and said he will fight for secret ballot vote for the Speaker's race and in term limits for that office. He said he also would fight for greater transparency for whip and caucus meetings.

Bikas said he will not seek reelection.

jeff ford March 31, 2012 at 12:23 AM
I have to laugh at how stupid the democrats are, Regardless of weather you agree with Bikas’s handling of the events this young leader has tossed you the political football and instead of supporting him in his quest for an honest and open government you bash him . We all should all rally behind Bikas to create term limits with secret ballots for the speaker position. This will insure the end of the good old boy system in this state. I believe this young man to be the long awaited breath of fresh air desperately needed in the State House
Denise Lane Painter March 31, 2012 at 12:30 AM
Mr. Ford, I find your first comment very interesting, considering it's identical word-for-word with a comment made by Helen Hamlin under the story "I Was Asked To Leave" SC Legislature. Either you or Ms. Ford need to come up with your own words and stop copying off of each other. That being said, the media and the leadership did not make up the fact that Mr. Bikas was a convicted violent criminal that "somehow" got his lack of fulfilling the conditions of his parole swept under the rug in Pickens County very soon after he announced his candidacy. The media and the leadership did not make up Mr. Bikas falsely claiming to live in the district by temporarily renting an empty trailer located inside the district while still living at his parent's home, which is NOT in the district. The media and the leadership did not make up that Mr. Bikas has not been in session for over two months now, yet has collected his $10,000 salary and is receiving the benefit of state (meaning taxpayer) benefits such as full health insurance. The media and the leadership did not make up that Mr. Bikas has publicly stated that he will not give back the taxpayer's money. The media and the leadership did not make up that Mr. Bikas is too stupid to know that they can't take your district away from you like it was a lollypop. If this spoilt child is a "true leader" then we are up crap creek and the monkeys have the paddles.
jeff ford March 31, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Mrs Painter You should check your facts before speaking. Bikas was in secession all of last year .He does not receive State Insurance . Records showhe has not collected any pay since being absent this year , This is all public knowledge Are you one to convict after a court couldn't . Could he have rented a trailer while his house was under construction? Or could it have been used as an office just down the street form where his apartment was the time You seem like so many journalist today just spouting out falsehoods.without facts Grow up and do your research . It is clear you just don't like this fellow. Produce facts to show I'm wrong
JOHN GAINES April 04, 2012 at 04:42 AM
jeff dommer December 30, 2012 at 10:06 PM
lol Eric, I hope you google yourself and read this some day. I knew Bikas from school... This kid is a tool. He went to cooking school which makes me wonder how he justified himself as qualified to make decisions for the public. He doesn't own a business from my understanding he has "worked" (lol, if being a spoiled punk is considered working) for his parents and likes to pretend like he owns his familys restaurant... he doesn't actually work by any means. I know him well enough to know that he is sitting at home laughing about how he is getting paid to do nothing. I don't know how to not sound bitter, I say congratulations to his parents for being sucessful enough to provide such a great life for this punk... But they did a piss poor job raising a punk kid who cares very little about others, takes virtually nothing seriously when no one is looking, and spends his parents money frivolously. He is not a good person, and this is knowing him on a personal level... Best part is if you knew him as well as I do. You would know he would be having a laugh right now knowing that I am right while he secretly laughs at all the people he pisses on... He likes to seem like a good guy, but he gets his rocks off being an asshole.


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