SC Ethics Reform: Curtis Loftis Has A Point

WHY PASS NEW LAWS IF POLITICIANS ARE GIVEN FREE REIGN TO BREAK THEM?  S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley – whose government reform proposal doesn’t contain a single provision she hasn’t previously violated or exploited – testified this week before the South Carolina Commission on Ethics Reform. Amazingly, lighting did not strike her…


S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley – whose government reform proposal doesn’t contain a single provision she hasn’t previously violated or exploited – testified this week before the South Carolina Commission on Ethics Reform.

Amazingly, lighting did not strike her during this address (… although if wishing made it so).

The governor – who trampled all over state ethics law as a member of the S.C. House of Representatives – got a hall pass from her former colleagues in spite of the damning evidence against her.  In fact Haley’s rigged “show trial” this summer was probably the clearest case of public corruption South Carolina has seen since Operation Lost Trust.

Except this time the lawlessness went completely unpunished …

“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,” we wrote in our critique of Haley’s plans. “It is the definition of hypocrisy … and stupidity.

Haley’s hypocrisy on ethics reform deserves special consideration as lawmakers debate various “ethics reform” proposals in the upcoming session of the S.C. General Assembly.  Why?  Because the hall pass the governor received raises a pertinent question:  What’s the point of passing new ethics laws if the leaders of our state are given free reign to violate laws already on the books?

Here’s what S.C. Treasurer Curtis Loftis had to say about this on his Facebook page:

There is lot of talk about ethics reform. I do not want to rain on anyone’s parade, BUT, we have adequate laws. We need elected and appointed officials to standup and be counted. THAT IS WHERE THE SYSTEM FAILS YOU! We need people that will not tolerate dishonesty. deceit or other evil shenanigans!

First of all, Loftis isn’t entirely correct.  Lawmakers clearly need to stop policing themselves and consolidate cases under one roof (as former S.C. Rep. Kevin Ryan proposed last November).  They should also insist on total income disclosure (which former 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).

Additionally, there should be a permanent ban against lawmakers and bureaucrats becoming lobbyists – among other reforms.

Are lawmakers going to do any of those things?  No … so far they appear content to pass yet another example of “reform in name only.”

But in the larger sense, Loftis does have a point.  Had state ethics law been followed in Haley’s case, the governor would be sitting in prison right now.  Hell, the campaign finance crimes committed by former S.C. Lt. Gov. Ken Ard were far less serious than Haley’s infractions – and he was indicted and forced to resign his office as a result of them.

Here’s the bottom line: South Carolina isn’t one of America’s most corrupt states because we have weak ethics laws, South Carolina is one of America’s most corrupt states because our politicians habitually break those laws and go unpunished.

While new ethics laws must be passed, Loftis is absolutely correct in identifying the real “system failure” in South Carolina.


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Lance Riprock December 11, 2012 at 9:36 am

I could say it in Latin, but so you will understand, “Who will guard the guards?”.

John December 11, 2012 at 10:08 am

Treasurer Loftis is the only one in the bunch that I would trust. But I would keep an eye on him too, just for the sake of “trust but verify” as Reagan used to say.

interested December 11, 2012 at 9:50 am

Oh hell, give us the latin Mister Riprock!

Lance Riprock December 11, 2012 at 10:29 am

Quis custodius costados epsum?

Yep December 11, 2012 at 9:57 am

Loftis is correct. No laws can make politicians act properly. Laws of this are meant to be vague. Meant to be “gotten round.”

Until honorable people are elected the dishonorable will rule.

CashMan December 11, 2012 at 10:01 am

No one has fought corruption and deceit like Treasurer Loftis has. I work for the Investment Commission and I can tell you they fight hime every step of the way. He knows they go to New York and give away your money by executing unfavorable agreements with Wall Street. They give him old information and make him beg for it. But he keeps fighting.

Bad people have been in charge of the Investment Commission for many years and their lies are coming undone. I sure hope Loftis keeps fighting otherwise the crooks will start up again.

pluffmudder December 11, 2012 at 10:18 am

SC politicians corrupt politicians are simply a reflection of the corrupt populace.

LittleT December 11, 2012 at 11:18 am

They say we are the 4th most corrupt state in the union and I believe it. The only way to break up the party is for outside folks, such as the FBI or others, or stand up guys like Loftis to keep on the attack. But realistically I long can one guy fight that battle alone?

Patko December 11, 2012 at 10:53 am

When will Libertea disclose?

William December 11, 2012 at 11:11 am

I heard him speak last week and he was terrific. Let us hope he can make changes. You can’t count on Haley or Wilson or that bunch. They could care less as long as the contributions keep coming it.

Smirks December 11, 2012 at 11:26 am

What fails us is our complete inability as a state to elect competent, decent folks to the various positions in state government. And no, a lack of those types of candidates isn’t an excuse, it is a symptom. Few decent, upstanding citizens of good moral fiber run because their chances of winning are near nil against incumbent assholes and/or well connected, well funded douchebags, and that’s because this state absolutely refuses to oust these assholes and douchebags when they act up, no matter how public their bullshit is (Knotts excluded I suppose).

That being said, it is beyond me how Loftis would be OK with any one government entity policing itself. Isn’t this the same guy who offered to lend SCDOT money to pay contractors because SCDOT wasn’t doing that shit on their own? Come on, dude. Even if you could guarantee a House Ethics Committee that was clean as a whistle, they shouldn’t be judge and jury over their own people. That’s bullshit.

Bill December 11, 2012 at 1:00 pm

I don’t think Loftis said that. I think his point is that no amount of laws will matter until we have good people in elected and appointed office.

I know Curtis and he would surely appreciate an ethics structure that enforces a better procedure. He just suggest that even a new procedure is likely to suffer if crooks are running it.

I add that we should be careful because all new rules will be made by crooks.

Bill December 11, 2012 at 11:26 am

Governor Haley and Attorney General Wilson took the state plane to fly around promoting better ethics. Problem was it was against the law to use the plane so Haley paid 10 grand to the state after she was busted by the newspaper.

Allen wilson never owned up to it. He never admitted it. He broke the law, never paid a cent, and never admitted it.

And we expect those guys to be in charge of ethics?

Thomas December 11, 2012 at 1:31 pm

The saying goes when in Rome, do as the Romans do. I can going along to get along. Do you think anyone would contemplate misdoings if they were not already part and parcel to the culture in SC government?

It does not take courage to go along, just rationalization. However, once a position of authority is attained, one must take the law seriously over and above family, collegial friendships, political connections.

The justice system in SC is rife with corruption and graft. Overall objectiveness is confined within a system that offers a few sacrificial examples to show the people the system works. It is broken from the Federal bench to US Attorneys. From Atty General of the US to Justice Department agents and officers. From Chief Justice of the SC Supreme Court to appointed Magistrates.

The burden is on those people having attained these positions to do as the Romans do, and not step up to correct the problems.

“We confess these crimes, which have greatly hampered our “state” cohesion and delayed our political, social and economic transformation. We confess sins of idolatry and “paganism” which are rampant in our land. We confess sins of shedding innocent blood, sins of political hypocrisy, dishonesty, intrigue and betrayal. Forgive us of sins of pride, “bovine sewage polemics, and sectarianism; crimes of laziness, indifference and irresponsibility; crimes of corruption and bribery that have eroded our state resources; crimes of sexual immorality, drunkenness and debauchery; crimes of unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred and revenge; crimes of injustice, oppression and exploitation; crimes of rebellion, insubordination, strife and conflict.

The biggest one is the crime of intellectual dishonesty.

Eric December 11, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Treasurer Loftis has been an excellent steward of our money. He works hard and tells us what is on his mind. That type of honesty is hard to find in public office.

hhuuhh?? December 11, 2012 at 3:34 pm

You were right to begin with. Loftis missed the boat on this one. Maybe since this is his first elective job, he’s just totally ignorant on the subject…but, doesn’t mind talking about it.

Brian December 11, 2012 at 8:40 pm

I am with Loftis. Crooks just read the law and skirt them. And since they wrote them it is easy!
Loftis is right by saying, in effect, let elect honest people!


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