ANOTHER INDICTMENT OF THE PALMETTO STATE’S LAX CONFLICT-OF-INTEREST REPORTING LAWS …
A few years ago this website exposed a direct link between powerful S.C. Senate leader Hugh Leatherman and millions of dollars in state transportation contracts. None of that income was disclosed by Leatherman on his required financial disclosure documents.
And of course nothing has happened in the aftermath of our reporting … (well, except for Leatherman becoming even more powerful by virtue of his 2014 election as Senate president).
Anyway, this week reporter Ron Aiken of The Nerve has a report up regarding additional lack of disclosure on the part of the all-powerful legislative leader.
According to Aiken’s report, Leatherman, his wife and related companies “own more than $2 million of real estate in Florence County, but you won’t find those holdings anywhere on Leatherman’s official Statement of Economic Interest form required by law.”
To his credit, Aiken isn’t focused so much on Leatherman’s latest effort to hide his assets as he is the broader failure of the state’s “disclosure” laws – namely the weakly worded requirements for Statement of Economic Interest (SEI) forms, the refusal of elected officials to disclose potentially incriminating information and the total lack of enforcement over these failings.
“In theory, SEIs identify potential conflicts of interest by showing where an elected official or senior government employee receives money and disclose any business or financial interests that may benefit from the officeholder’s position,” Aiken reported. “In reality, SEIs are little more than a list of gifts and state benefits, with the personal interest disclosure section worded so vaguely and filled-out so poorly by respondents that they stand as perhaps the least-policed financial documents in state government because in South Carolina, the policing entity for the form’s accuracy isn’t the state Ethics Commission but legislators themselves.”
The most significant impediments to exposing – and stopping – public corruption in South Carolina remain the self-policing legislative “ethics” committees that hold exclusive authority over probing the alleged misdeeds of state lawmakers.
As we wrote earlier this year …
… this website has been fighting for years to not only expose the corruption itself, but more importantly the self-policing system that perpetuates it. We’ve also aggressively exposed the “reforms in name only” lawmakers have put forth as part of a backdoor effort to muzzle criticism of their chronic self-dealing … while giving the appearance of doing something to promote “public integrity.”
What a joke.
We’ve tried to hold this system accountable – and are taking shots because of it.
State lawmakers? They’ve continued to cash checks and evade accountability for their actions. Meanwhile the state’s top prosecutor – S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson – has been disturbingly selective in his promised pursuit of public corruption.
The result of all this? A state which literally breeds corruption.
Will anything change?
Don’t count on it … rather than pushing for ethics reform that eliminates this corrupt self-policing mechanism, lawmakers have instead pushed laws aimed at silencing dissent. In fact only one state lawmaker – S.C. Rep. Kirkman Finlay – has made comprehensive income disclosure a priority in recent years.
That has to change … but again, we’re not holding our breath.
Wah, surprise! whaddayaknow…we have our own Bob Corker…..how about the Feds head down here with their corkers and probe some old leathery holes. This Christmas season is full of fun for the Feds, it seems.
Vote all of ruling class out! Let them draw their very, very lucrative, gold, tax payer funded retirements!
He needs a tax cut.
You know so he can ” invest” and “create” jobs.
Isn’t that the standard Republican response when anyone brings up the wealthy?
Why should Leatherman be treated any differently?
That’s right—the Pee Dee gave us Pee Wee Gaskins and Hugh Leatherman and best that we can tell
There’ll be nothing left of Pee Wee, Hugh or the OTHER flag-ripping legislators but ashes down in… !!!
HL would have been a crook, even if the flag had never been an issue. The difference now it that you actually care.
The Buzzman was proud to be an ingrate–patriots actually meant nothing to him
And where the boy’s going–if he doesn’t gain gratitude–will burn him limb from limb !!!
One cant topple a powerful crook like Leatherman without the help of the media. The MSM loves Leatherman because they want a gas tax, a big spending education bill and a bond bill for higher ed.
Cindy Ross-Scoppe would let Leatherman run over her kids as long as she gets a gas tax.
Scoppe has a visceral hatred for the right wing. She despises the Tea Party and sees Leatherman as the instrument to keep those heathens at bay and that is why she is Leatherman’s apologist.
She, with only a few others in the MSM, is willing to talk (write) a bit tough and bluntly and about big shots and their policies. Old school . . . and a welcome addition to the otherwise sea of smarm and official-release rebroadcasting.
Leatherman owned lots of property that has been purchased as right of way using the money he directed into Florence County. His Lawyers at Willcox Buyck and Williams were the agents for the right away purchase. The whole thing stinks and there is lots of talk in his Senate district about this fishy business. I have neighbors that have voted for him in every election but say they will not do so this election.
The folks in Columbia make the rules and laws to protect self, It is like have in Fox to guard a hen house. America is stuck in corruption and self indulgence.