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S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley has unveiled an ethics reform package for the 2013 legislative session that would address many of the loopholes she has habitually exploited over the years in order to maintain and expand her political power.

Flanked by S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson, Haley embarked on a taxpayer-funded tour of the state this week to outline her “reforms” – most of which have been proposed previously by lawmakers of both parties.  Before we assess the politics of Haley’s proposals, let’s first examine them in the context of the governor’s actions …

*Haley wants candidates for elected office to provide “total income disclosure” – even though she failed to report tens of thousands of dollars she received by a company with business before the state.  

*She  wants to consolidate ethics cases under the roof of an independent agency – even though she used the current “fox guards the henhouse” structure to evade responsibility for her chronic refusal to follow the law.

*She wants mandatory recusals for conflicts of interest … even though she failed to recuse herself from at least one vote benefiting her secret employer and actively lobbied a state agency

*She wants “freedom of information from all branches of government,” even though her office has habitually refused to follow the state’s FOIA law … and lobbied against a legislative FOIA provision sponsored by S.C. Rep. Rick Quinn.

*Finally, Haley wants “no incumbent exemptions for election filings,” even though the current law – which resulted in hundreds of challengers getting booted from the ballot – was drafted by her and close, close friend S.C. Rep. Nathan Ballentine. 

Seriously … we can’t point to a single one of Haley’s ethics proposals that she hasn’t already either violated or exploited in an effort to cover up her offenses, making this the ultimate “do as I say, not as I do” offering.

Trusting Nikki Haley with ethics reform is like asking Amy Winehouse to be your Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor.  Or hiring Jerry Sandusky to babysit your children.  Or appointing Barry Bonds to investigate steroid use in baseball.

It is the definition of hypocrisy … and stupidity.

We hope lawmakers will consolidate ethics cases under one roof (as S.C. Rep. Kevin Ryan proposed last November), insist on total income disclosure (which S.C. Rep. Boyd Brown included in his ethics package in January) and require that all branches of government abide by FOIA (as Rep. Quinn proposed in February).  They should also fix the ballot language that Haley and Ballentine inartfully “reformed” (resulting in this year’s mass purge of legislative challengers) and require mandatory, recorded recusals.

Additionally, lawmakers should permanently ban lawmakers and bureaucrats from becoming lobbyists, triple the state’s ethics fines, shorten the legislative session and impose term limits on House and Senate members – all reforms that were included in Rep. Brown’s reform agenda.

Most importantly, they should insist on the creation of searchable databases that record every single taxpayer-funded transaction and email – two critical “transparency” reforms that would provide a much-needed check on the pay-to-play corruption that is rampant in state government.

Lawmakers should do all these things … and more … not because Nikki Haley is now supporting these reforms, but because there are politicians like Nikki Haley out there who must be held accountable.

UPDATE: The S.C. House Democratic Caucus has published a voluminous response to Haley’s proposals.  It’s worth checking out …

UPDATE II: And here is the equally scathing response from House Republicans …