By Paul Gable
South Carolina House Speaker Bobby Harrell’s problems with travel reimbursements continued last week when The Nerve reported problems with travel reimbursement records since 2008.
House mileage reimbursements for legislators are generally restricted to one round trip per week while the legislature is in session.
The Nerve reported Harrell was reimbursed for nine weekly round trips for use of his airplane and 21 weekly round trips by car in 2008. However, the House was only in session for 23 weeks that year.
Similarly, in 2012 the House spent 20 weeks in session while Harrell was reimbursed for 18 round trips by car and five round trips by air.
In addition, from 2008 to present, Harrell has reimbursed himself over $234,000 for legislative and other trips in a total of 40 payments from his campaign account. This was part of approximately $300,000 in reimbursements to Harrell from his campaign account for what he calls business related to his position as House Speaker.
Harrell has stated several times in the media that all of these reimbursements are in accordance with state ethics laws and that he is, in fact, saving the state money by reimbursing himself out of his campaign account.
Of course, there is not much other use for his campaign donations. Harrell has run unopposed for many of his 10 terms in Columbia. This year he is challenged by a petition candidate and a Green Party candidate who, frankly, have no chance of defeating him.
Records show Harrell has raised over $71,000 for his re-election campaign this year. Horry County interests are well represented with the Harrell campaign as the Grand Strand Restaurant PAC, Grand Strand Statewide PAC, Grand Strand Golf PAC and MB Lodging PAC all weighed in with $1,000 each during the current election cycle.
I know South Carolina politicians, in general, have a huge sense of entitlement and little regard for the impressions they leave with the citizens who elect them. However, if such actions don’t shout loudly for real ethics reform throughout the state, I don’t know what does.
The Nerve article: http://thenerve.org/news/2012/10/26/House-speaker/