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Ethics Legislation Update

Over the past three weeks, the House has passed several important reforms to our ethics laws

The first revamps the makeup of the South Carolina Ethics Commission and turns the Commission into an independent investigative body. The independent commission is given the full resources of the South Carolina law enforcement community and is tasked with investigating ethics complaints made against elected officials. Under the House plan passed this week the State Ethics Commission is comprised of 4 members appointed by the Governor, 4 elected by the Supreme Court, and 2 members elected by each the House and Senate. The measure passed the House unanimously.

The second bans candidate affiliated “Leadership” Political Action Committees (PACs). It even goes one step further and states that elected officials can no longer accept campaign contributions from Leadership PACs. This is an important step toward revamping the campaign finance laws in South Carolina.

The third strengthens campaign finance reporting laws, while the second clarifies how campaign funds should be attributed to primaries and primary run-off campaigns.

The fourth provides certain exemptions to encourage state-funded university employees to develop intellectual property that benefits institutions of higher learning, making South Carolina more competitive in the effort to attract and retain top quality researchers.

The fifth provides public employees legal protections and substantially increased financial incentives for reporting unethical behavior when your tax dollars are on the line.

The sixth gives guidance to elected officials about the proper use of political campaign dollars.