For the past two years, the League of Women Voters has made ethics reform a legislative priority. Locally, we mounted e-mail initiatives, made personal contact with legislators, sent postcards and supported our LWVSC board members as they testified at numerous legislative committee meetings in support of the ethics reform bill.
Disclosure of lawmakers' income, guidelines for use of campaign funds, PAC transparency, and an independent oversight committee were some of the components of H3945, the bill that would have given South Carolina's citizens confidence in the integrity of their elected decision makers.
In the final hours of the Senate's deliberation on the bill, it became obvious that disappointment was waiting in the wings for us. Some felt that the bill, with all of its disclosure requirements, was a big step forward and could be strengthened in future sessions. That was our position. Others felt that the bill no longer included all of the elements needed to make a difference. And, sadly, some never wanted ethics reform to begin with and saw this division as the perfect foil to do nothing.
Ultimately, a filibuster killed the bill and this year's chance to have ethics reform. We are disappointed, but not defeated. One legislator reflected that South Carolina will never have ethics reform until all the voices of the electorate demand it. Members of the league will continue to be among those voices. We encourage others to join us.
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Loretta Warden and Sally McGarry
Hilton Head Island
Editor's Note: Warden is the president and McGarry is the action/advocacy chairwoman of the League of Women Voters Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Area.