Bravo regarding the important piece on the income South Carolina lawmakers make in addition to their part-time salaries from the state.
While no one expects them to live on part-time salaries, it appeared that many lawmakers crossed the line of “conflict of interest” in their additional employment, which is not surprising given human nature’s poor track record in avoiding unmonitored self-interest.
Of the many claims in self-defense, perhaps the most disingenuous came from Rep. Murrell Smith of Sumter, one of the legislature’s 43 attorneys, who told the newspaper that the idea that lawmakers get special treatment in the courtroom — because they elect the judges hearing their cases — is false. Judges are bound by their own ethics rules, he said, which require them not to show favoritism. Does he think the public is that naïve?
First of all, this is not a provable statement because complaints to the South Carolina Commission on Judicial Conduct remain “private and confidential.” If I correctly interpret the enigmatic statistics in its annual report for fiscal year 2016-17, out of 301 complaints “pending and received” by the commission regarding judges, the majority were “dismissed,” one resulted in a “public reprimand,” two in “suspension,” and none resulted in removal from office.
One-percent of the complaints? Seriously? The public needs Freedom of Information Act access to these complaints to learn what really goes on in the courtroom and judges’ “secured” position in the legal establishment. And their connections to lawmakers. I think the foxes are guarding the henhouse.
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