Judge Dismisses Ethics Case Against Haley
Fifth Circuit judge dismisses John Rainey's lawsuit
A South Carolina judge dismissed a lawsuit filed against Gov. Nikki Haley Wednesday, removing the case from the court system but not clearing Haley of wrongdoing.
Fifth Circuit Judge Casey Manning ruled that his court was not the proper venue to decide a case involving alleged ethics violations that occurred while Haley served in the House of Representatives.
John Rainey's lawsuit alleged that Haley violated multiple ethics laws, including illegally lobbying for her former employer, Lexington Medical Center, while she was a state representative.
Haley's lawyers attempted to have the lawsuit thrown out by the S.C. Supreme Court in January, but the justices upheld the circuit court's right to hear it.
With the ruling dismissed from circuit court, Rainey could take his charges to the House Ethics Committee.
Five Republicans, including Chairman Rep. Roland Smith (R-Aiken), make up the six-person ethics panel, but Smith told the Columbia Free Times that they would treat Haley fairly if her case reached them.
“We’ve got honest people on the Ethics Committee that really take their job seriously,” Smith said.
But according to a recent study, there's reason to doubt the Ethics Committee's ability to enforce its own laws. South Carolina earned an "F" for the quality of its ethics enforcement agencies in a recent study on the ability of states to prevent corruption.
"The State Ethics Commission is these days understaffed, underfunded and widely thought to lack teeth," State Integrity Investigation reporter Corey Hutchins wrote in his report. "Lawmakers are theoretically self-regulated by their respective ethics committees in the House and Senate."
Rainey criticized and identified loopholes in South Carolina ethics laws during a March 14 op-ed in The State newspaper.
"Our ethics law makes a farce of the notion of accountability and transparency, and therefore contributes to the status of South Carolina as a national laughingstock," Rainey said.