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SC House Ethics Committee Ramps Up




Wanna hear a bad joke? “Political ethics.”

Wanna hear an even worse joke?  “Government oversight of political ethics.”

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what we have in South Carolina – where our state’s all-powerful lawmakers have enjoyed the right to “self-police” one another (and their former colleagues) when it comes to alleged violations of law.

Does this “self-policing” work?  LOL.  No.  Not even a little bit.  Which is why this website has consistently called lawmakers out on these “corrupt cover-up committees.”

For years.

Sadly, our repeated cries for reform have gone unheeded.  Lawmakers haven’t fixed their notoriously corrupt system, instead they’ve proposed meaningless “reform in name only” that glosses over the real issues.

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(Via Travis Bell Photography)

Not only that, the last chairman of the S.C. House ethics committee – ex-lawmaker Kenny Bingham (below) – seemed more interested in filing frivolous lawsuits at media outlets (ostensibly hoping to ferret out their whistleblowers) than he was in going after the rampant corruption taking place within his chamber.

Thankfully some of this corruption is now being exposed via an independent investigation led by S.C. first circuit solicitor David Pascoe.

Exclusively unearthed more than two years ago by this website – the probe has already brought down powerful former S.C. Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell (who turned state’s evidence after resigning his influential office in October 2014).  It threatened to do even more damage last year, until S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson essentially torpedoed his political career in a failed effort to shut it down.

(Here’s the latest on that ongoing probe … which Pascoe is leading with the explicit backing of the S.C. Supreme Court).

Pascoe’s probe continues to ramp up – with additional indictments expected as soon as this week.  Is this investigation the only game in town, though?

Apparently not …

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(Via Travis Bell Photography)

Multiple legislative sources tell us Bingham’s replacement as ethics committee chairman – S.C. Rep. Mike Pitts (above) – has been working “feverishly” with his fellow committee members on a “flurry” of ethics cases.  At some point within the next few weeks, we’re told Pitts’ panel  – which features five Republicans and five Democrats – could be prepared to go public with some of its findings.

Citing a current law that prohibits lawmakers from discussing ethics cases, the Upstate, S.C. legislator declined to comment on his committee’s activity when reached for comment by FITSNews.

Other committee members followed his lead, citing the same law that forbids the disclosure of filed ethics complaints prior to a finding of “probable cause.”

Frankly wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Pitts – a former law enforcement officer – has infused this panel with a newfound sense of urgency.  And certainly we wouldn’t be surprised to learn that such urgency was lacking – or nonexistent – under Bingham.

We don’t agree with this veteran legislator on every issue, but unlike the prior chairman of this panel we believe he has demonstrated remarkable integrity in advancing his beliefs.  And we trust that he is doing his best to make this panel a credible contributor to accountability in state government as opposed to a punchline.

Make no mistake we will continue to advocate for an end to legislative self-policing, but in the meantime we look forward to seeing what this ex-cop’s panel has uncovered …

(Banner via Travis Bell Photography)