Port commissioners are 'investigating the possible misuse of Port funds by Mr. Hayes.'

PMG FILE PHOTO - Port of Columbia County Executive Director Doug Hayes speaks at a 2018 meeting.The Port of Columbia County is investigating the possible "misuse" of port funds by former executive director Doug Hayes, port commissioners announced Friday, Oct. 15.

Hayes resigned abruptly from his position last month. At the time, board president Nancy Ward declined to comment on the reason for Hayes' departure.

"We are investigating the possible misuse of Port funds by Mr. Hayes," the commissioners wrote in a public letter. "The alleged improper use came to light after an employee reported concerns to the Port Commission."

Hayes paid the port back $23,335, which "represents the total amount identified," the commissioners wrote.

"This was a significant breach of trust, and we will complete a thorough investigation," the commissioners wrote. "We are working with local authorities and will be following their lead in that process. We are also conducting an internal review looking back several years."

The commissioners said they were "committed to sharing the results of the investigation with our community" and will be considering changes to the port's organizational structure "to ensure financial oversight."

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