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So-Called “Ethics” Bill Must Be Stopped




For years, this website has been exposing the ridiculous charade that is “ethics reform” in South Carolina.

The Palmetto State – home to one of America’s most secretive and corrupt state governments – seems impervious to real accountability.  How come?  That’s easy: None of our politicians are proposing real reform.

And we’re not the only ones who think that … 

The other problem?  As S.C. Treasurer Curtis Loftis has pointed out, strengthening our state’s ethics law isn’t going to do much of anything so long as politicians (like S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley) are permitted to continue breaking those laws with impunity.

Which leads us to the hypocrisy of the debate … which is another huge problem.  No one trusts the “solutions” being offered because the people offering those solutions are totally untrustworthy.

The charade rolls on though … meaningless bills, meaningless sound bites and meaningless drama.  And in those rare instances in which a real reform starts making its way through the legislative process – it gets killed.

This year’s “ethics reform” debate in South Carolina actually more insidious than in previous years, though.  That’s because in addition to offering nothing in the way of real substance, this year lawmakers are actually making things worse.

And again … we’re not the only ones who think that.

This week, three groups supportive of real ethics reform – the S.C. Policy Council, Common Cause and Palmetto Liberty – all came out in opposition to the current proposal.

“The legislation offers no real reform but instead creates new ways to protect politicians and their leadership PACs from disclosure, allows lawmakers to lobby government entities on behalf of themselves and clients, and to spend their campaign funds on virtually anything,” the groups concluded.

Sources tell FITS one state lawmaker – S.C. Sen. Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) – is contemplating a filibuster of the legislation.

Good.  We hope he follows through on that notion … and we hope other State Senators join him in his effort.

The “ethics reform” bill currently before the State Senate is a travesty.  It guts the income disclosure requirement pushed so diligently in the S.C. House by S.C. Rep. Kirkman Finlay, guts existing restrictions on lawmakers converting campaign funds to personal use and guts the state’s ban on legislative lobbying.

All three are major steps backward … not forward.

Additionally, the legislation would stifle the ability of citizens to criticize their elected officials … while creating a new loophole for powerful lawmakers to run their ethically challenged “political action committees.”

That’s another huge step in the wrong direction.

“Legislative leaders clearly have no intention of supporting substantive reform,” S.C. Policy Council president Ashley Landess said earlier this week. “The message seems to be: ‘Trust us.’ But these are the same legislative leaders who, in 2013, tried to use this same bill to decriminalize the ethics code and silence their critics.”

She’s right …

The so-called “ethics reform” bill currently pending before the S.C. Senate must be stopped.  It would foster corruption, not limit it; Encourage abuse, not curtail it; Breed new conflicts of interest, not snuff them off.

And it would do all of those things while limiting transparency … and limiting our ability as citizens to criticize our leaders when they pull crap like this.

We hope Tom Davis steps up and filibusters this bill … and we hope any lawmaker who votes for it is prepared to explain themselves to their constituents.

UPDATE: Looks like there’s some additional political movement on this issue …