On June 5, our legislators failed to act, sounding the death knell this year for much needed ethics reform in South Carolina.
Nowhere was the disappointment greater than with members of the League of Women Voters. As controversies emerged in recent years, people discovered how weak our ethics laws are. At the state level and with support from local members, ethics reform became a high priority for league action.
Early in the legislative session, a report from the S.C. Commission on Ethics Reform provided an excellent road map for ethics guidelines. The report addressed the need for independent oversight, strengthening the conflict of interest laws by requiring disclosure of public and private income sources and strengthening campaign finance laws. It recommended stiffer penalties for criminal violations. But politics derailed passage at the last opportunity this year.
The good news is that this was the first year of a two-year session. In January, as the General Assembly reconvenes, this legislation can continue to be discussed and acted upon. The bad news is that South Carolina will endure one more year of failed and inadequate ethics policy. Ethics laws and regulations are intended to be the traffic signals at the intersection of money, information and power in our government.
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The league will not give up working for the stronger ethics law so badly needed in our state. Please join with your local and state league members to assure that the ethics reform story has a different ending next year.
Loretta Warden, president
Sally McGarry, action/advocacy
League of Women Voters
Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Area