South Carolina has some of the laxest ethics laws on the books. But if the state legislature followed the advice of a bi-partisan commission, the state would have some of the toughest in the country.
Governor Nikki Haley appointed the commission last year. It includes former attorneys general, prosecutors, former lawmakers, and a journalism professor.
The group suggests requiring public officials to disclose more of their income both public and private, increasing penalties for violating ethics laws, getting rid of leadership PACS and responding to requests for public documents within 7 days.
“We are attempting through our recommendations made in this report to put South Carolina in a class by herself, when it comes to honest government, good ethics rules and the reputation for integrity and honesty in its public officials,” said former SC Attorney General Henry McMaster, who co-chairs the commission.
The group also advises giving more authority to the state’s independent ethics commission. Right now, that commission doesn’t have jurisdiction over state lawmakers. And it suggests creating a new Public Integrity Unit to investigate allegations of major ethics violations.
State lawmakers in the house and senate have also created committees to study ethics reform.