A Greenville, S.C., retiree is suing to force the caretakers of the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley to disclose all its dealings under the state's open-records laws. Greenville retiree Edward D. Sloan Jr. says that the nonprofit Friends of the Hunley is a wing of the state Hunley Commission and a public body.

Sloan's suit, filed in Richland County, wants all the commission's records made public.

Officials at Friends of the Hunley say they have given Sloan some documents he wanted. They say that the group is a private, nonprofit charity and have sued Sloan for harassment because they think he sued with other unnamed people to embarrass the project.

The H.L. Hunley sank Feb. 17, 1864, after ramming a black powder charge into the Union blockade ship Housatonic off Charleston. The sub was raised in the summer of 2000 and is now in a conservation lab at the old Charleston Navy Base.

Sloan said that his action "shouldn't be interpreted as anti-salvage of the Hunley."

He says he wants a judge to determine the status of the Friends of the Hunley.

The group was set up for fund raising and the submarine's conservation. Bills accumulated in the conservation project amounted to several millions. Finances were managed by Friends of the Hunley but sent to state and federal governments for payment or reimbursement once the work was identified.

Sloan has filed similar disclosure suits against the state highway department, Greenville County, the city of Greenville and the Greenville County School District.

He sued the school district in January, saying that its procurement code was faulty in its $768 million construction plan.

Where the Hunley case will go now is unclear.

Jay Bender, an attorney for the South Carolina Press Association, said that Friends of the Hunley may have to comply with Sloan's request if a state judge concurs.


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