Surprise! More Questionable SC Ethics …

HENRY McMASTER, ALAN WILSON BENEFIT FROM DUBIOUS DECISIONS  || By FITSNEWS ||  “Ethics” in South Carolina state government is … well, let’s just say we couldn’t finish that sentence without laughing. The Palmetto State is one of America’s most corrupt and least transparent states … and a big reason is its self-policing…


|| By FITSNEWS ||  “Ethics” in South Carolina state government is … well, let’s just say we couldn’t finish that sentence without laughing.

The Palmetto State is one of America’s most corrupt and least transparent states … and a big reason is its self-policing legislative branch (where the vast majority of the power lies).  Another reason?  Its utterly toothless S.C. State Ethics Commission (SCSEC).

Basically elected officials in South Carolina (in all branches of government) are able to do as they please … free from accountability and free from the consequences of their actions.  It’s a perfect example of what happens when those who make the laws abuse their authority.  It’s also why shamelessly self-serving politicians like S.C. governor Nikki Haley are able to get away with their chronic hypocrisy on “ethics reform” and “transparency in government.”

Hell, Haley was one of the prime beneficiaries of South Carolina’s selective justice when she faced a jury of her fellow “Republican” politicians in 2012.

The only two big-ticket exceptions to this rule?  Former Lt. Gov. Ken Ard and former House Speaker Bobby Harrell – who went down in 2012 and 2014, respectively, after investigations were initiated by the office of state attorney general Alan Wilson.

This “selective justice” is nothing new …

Our reporting on the S.C. General Assembly’s corrupt “ethics committees” spans back for years.   Meanwhile last summer we published this report on the corruption associated with the SCSEC – which was led at the time by James Burns (who is currently serving as Haley’s chief of staff).

This week, two decisions have emerged from the SCSEC which give us serious heartburn … and should serve to further erode the public’s already borderline nonexistent faith in state government.

The first decision involves a compliant filed in April of 2014 against lieutenant governor-elect Henry McMaster.  Despite clear evidence attesting to the receipt of illegal campaign contributions, the SCSEC – whose appointments have allegedly been manipulated for political leverage – chose to sit on the McMaster complaint until after his November election.

In fact the commission waited nearly ten months before it even scheduled a hearing into the allegations.

Yeah …

And guess what … McMaster’s hearing (like most of the state’s ethically challenged “ethics” hearings) is scheduled to be held behind closed doors.

The other decision we find disappointing is the surprise dismissal of nearly thirty campaign finance allegations leveled in 2013 against Wilson – the crusading prosecutor himself.

We addressed the allegations against Wilson on several occasions over the past two years, noting they seemed to be politically motivated – and not especially serious (most of them involving the receipt of excess campaign contributions).  But in one piece we opined that Wilson had a “perception problem” to deal with – adding that he “likely has some well-deserved ethics fines coming his way.”

Apparently not, though …

Late last month (on Christmas Eve, to be precise) the SCESC decided to drop all of the allegations against Wilson – just like that – claiming it was unable to reach the individual who filed the complaint against him (a woman named Krista Thom who lives in Wisconsin).  Commission members also cited Wilson’s acknowledgment of impropriety as a factor in their decision – as well as the fact that he returned the excessive contributions.


Of all people, Wilson should recognize that the outright dismissal of these charges does not help him one bit … in fact, it makes the perception problem we initially reference that much worse for him.

Seriously … ethics charges against Wilson get dropped without so much as a hearing?  On Christmas Eve? 

All because the commission couldn’t get in touch with a witness? 

Please …

“Such bullsh*t,” one of Wilson’s critics told FITS.

For once, we agree …

And while we don’t think the attorney general had anything to do with the curiously timed dismissal of these allegations (from everything we’ve seen, Wilson continues to conduct himself like a “Boy Scout”), it’s clear his interests and credibility would have been far better served had he accepted a judgment and paid the appropriate fines related to these charges.

Getting off without that well-deserved “slap on the wrist” makes him look bad … like he’s part of the problem in Columbia, not the crusader exposing the problems.

Every politician in South Carolina agrees ethics reform is at the top of their list as the 2015 legislative session kicks off … but we’re ready for “more walk, less talk” on this critical issue.  It’s time (past time, actually) that elected officials in the Palmetto State start passing and enforcing real ethics laws – not more of the same “reform in name only” championed by hypocrites like Haley.


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Step Up! January 7, 2015 at 2:27 pm

The AG needs to step up and not hide behind a technicality! If he was this justice crusader he says he his then he needs to face the music himself!!!

Rocky January 7, 2015 at 2:30 pm

When you’re in the SC Ruling Class – the laws of mortals don’t apply to you. Didn’t you get that yet?

Rethuglican January 7, 2015 at 2:36 pm

Shhhh! We keep these rubes uneducated and distracted for a reason.

Rethuglican January 7, 2015 at 2:34 pm

Another day, another SC republican accused of criminal and/or ethical misdeed.

Sad Day! January 7, 2015 at 2:47 pm

The real issue is no one can investigate him. He will get away with anything and there is no one to look into him criminally. Something needs to be don to check the AG’s power!

Rethuglican January 7, 2015 at 3:06 pm

Indeed. We’ve constructed a pretty good little system here in the South, especially in SC. Thank you for repeatedly putting us in power and saving any complaints you might have for FitsNews articles. They’re helpful little toadies.

Buz Martin January 7, 2015 at 7:45 pm

SC was a corrupt state when Dems were in charge. Now that Repubs are in charge (a great many of them former Dems) it is still a corrupt state. There are several highly corrupt Dems in the legislature as well, not to mention a certain US rep from a highly gerrymandered district. You can keep trying to put it all off on the GOP, but ultimately, that’s bullshit.

euwe max January 7, 2015 at 2:46 pm

…and in other news, people with concealed weapons are starting to carry parachutes.

:) January 8, 2015 at 11:36 am

Was that news in France?

Yep January 7, 2015 at 2:52 pm

More justus, from the purveyor of justice.

Mickey January 7, 2015 at 2:53 pm

Burns, as Chairman of the Ethics Commission, lets Haley off then he gets the well paying chief of staff job? (Of course it is not about the paycheck, it is about the access to the state’s billions!!)
Stinks to high heavens.

The Colonel January 7, 2015 at 4:34 pm

Krista Thom has an interesting online presence – why do I suspect that the charges were dropped so that the SCSEC wouldn’t look stupid for following up on them in the first place?

nitrat January 7, 2015 at 5:13 pm

I used to think Herb Hayden was a force for good, justice and honor in this state.
Then, Nikki Haley got ahold to him.
Now, he is just a public joke and a disgrace.

William January 7, 2015 at 9:07 pm

Herb does as Leatherman tells him. Always has, always will.

Old RC lawyer January 8, 2015 at 8:54 am

In other news, the most corrupt politician in the state, Jean Hoefer Toal, continues to get away with it. Street talk downtown is that Harrell remains afraid to give any hard data on the Toal election. Sic, your pal Tom Davis could talk and tell all on that election, but he won’t.

RogueElephant January 8, 2015 at 9:17 am

WOW. The nit-pickers found something on Henry. Surprise, surprise, surprise. Next story please.

TyroneMamaCollards January 8, 2015 at 11:25 am

the SC Bar could go after him independently.
the appearance of impropriety is just as bad as the impropriety according to the Rules of Conduct governing lawyer behavior.
is McMaster’s brother still grabbing at waiters at the Palmetto Club? how did that turn out?

Nah January 8, 2015 at 11:36 am

“the SC Bar could go after him independently.”

I wouldn’t hold your breath on that.

Marvis Branco March 24, 2016 at 5:23 am

Useful commentary – I loved the info ! Does someone know if my assistant might acquire a sample a form version to complete ?


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