On the same day a “Republican” state lawmaker from Georgetown County, S.C. announced his intention to plead guilty to federal charges in connection with an illegal stem cell harvesting operation, a Democratic lawmaker from the Upstate also found himself in some legal trouble.
S.C. Rep. Harold Mitchell (D-Spartanburg) – who was suspended from office last year during an investigation on tax charges – is facing fresh ethics charges from his colleagues on the S.C. House Ethics Committee.
Of course before anyone assigns too much credibility to that committee, let’s not forget its members gave S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley a hall pass last year despite clear and compelling evidence that she broke state ethics law on multiple occasions. Meanwhile the S.C. Senate Ethics Committee ran a black Democrat out of office on much lesser charges.
Ah, the “beauty” of selective ethics enforcement in South Carolina … where your punishment for breaking the law apparently depends on your partisan affiliation.
On at least one of the counts against Mitchell, his attorney acknowledges his client misspent campaign funds on gout medication because he “had no other money.” Mitchell’s attorney also admits his client took a loan from his campaign to make a payment on his personal vehicle – which is another violation of state law.
Republican members investigating Mitchell insist his improper use of campaign funds is much more serious – potentially totaling more than $100,000. Defenders of Mitchell insist bank errors are to blame for discrepancies.
“All these black lawmakers – they live out of their campaign accounts,” one GOP lawmaker told FITS. “It is common knowledge – and it’s why none of them want ethics reform.”
Haley – the Palmetto State’s arch-offender when it comes to ethics violations – has been pushing lawmakers hard on the issue of ethics reform. In fact she’s made the issue her top legislative priority heading into the 2014 session of the S.C. General Assembly.
Is Haley’s plan any good? Hell no …
Most glaringly, it fails to eliminate the self-policing of elected officials that enables so many of them to evade accountability for their actions.