Democrats Unveil Statehouse Ethics Reforms
With focus on S.C. integrity issues, House Democrats polish off rebuke.
S.C. House Democrats rolled out a five-point ethics reform plan Tuesday to seize on ethical scandals and the state's recent "F" for a lack of political oversight and accountability.
"It is time for South Carolina to get serious about ethics reform," said Rep. Boyd Brown of Winnsboro. "Corruption is plaguing our great state and it's high time we do something about it."
The Statehouse is still putting the pieces back together after the resignation of Lt. Gov. Ken Ard over campaign finance abuses, forcing musical chairs in the Senate that has left a Lowcountry seat open until a special election this summer.
And a report from the Center of Public Integrity highlighted shortcomings in the state's oversight process that enables abuses.
Pointing to several reform bills introduced in the legislature, the Democrats said they were focusing on five key points:
- Term Limits for all Members of the General Assembly.
- Statewide Recall Bill.
- Eliminating House and Senate Ethics Committees and give the authority to the State Ethics Commission.
- Requiring Lobbyists to Report Tax Returns Online.
- A Two-Year Ban on the Revolving Door for Legislators, Lobbyists, and Government Employees.
"Over the years I've seen Republicans slowly chip away at government accountability and transparency," said Rep. James Smith (D-Columbia). "It's time to stop saying one thing while doing another."
Rep. Leon Stavrinakis (D-Charleston) pointed to the recent announcement from Gov. Nikki Haley that her office would make it a policy to preserve emails between the governor and her staff. It was found last year that some emails requested through the Freedom of Information Act had been deleted.
"We have a Governor who decided to stop deleting official emails only after she got caught," said Rep. Stavrinakis. "That is even more reason why I am committed to bringing real ethics reform to this state."
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