By Paul Gable
It is well past time for true ethics reform in South Carolina. Not the reform that our ethically challenged governor and her attorney general sidekick ran around the state last week attempting to claim as their own.
That really was a performance. Gov. Nikki Haley on a taxpayer funded circuit around the state promoting ethics reform that she would have been guilty of violating when she was a state representative. Haley also promoted stiffer freedom of information laws while her current administration routinely disregards FOIA requests.
With Haley it’s not what she says, it’s what she does. The word hypocrisy is too tame to apply to her.
However, citizen’s groups are banding together around the state to try and make ethics reform a reality. The South Carolina Policy Council is in the forefront of this effort. They believe ethics reform can’t be left in the hands of the lawmakers. True, the General Assembly will have to pass changes in the laws, but it really can’t be trusted to write those changes. It is time for the citizens to lead this reform.
Below is a press release from the South Carolina Policy Council on events Wednesday promoting reform:
Columbia, SC –August 29, 2012 – Yesterday South Carolina Policy Council President Ashley Landess stood with an ideologically diverse group of allies to remind the state’s political leaders what real ethics reform looks like. Landess was joined by Dana Beach, Executive Director of the Coastal Conservation League; Talbert Black, Coordinator of South Carolina Campaign for Liberty; Harry Kibler, head of Operation Lost Vote; and Johns Island civil rights activist William Saunders.
The group contended that the culture of secret deal-making, cronyism, and self-enrichment at the heart of state government won’t change without sweeping reforms. Among those reforms: opening the state’s secretive incentives process; forcing all state agencies, including the legislature and executive agencies, to follow the state’s Freedom of Information law; limiting lobbyists’ influence by shortening legislative sessions; and enforcing state laws requiring an open budget process.
“We can no longer ignore the connection between corruption and the concentration of power,” said Policy Council President Ashley Landess. “South Carolina has the most powerful, least accountable politicians in the nation – and until we change that, we’ll never change anything else. A handful of politicians control the legislature, the judicial branch, and most state agencies. They cut billion-dollar deals in secret. They ignore state law and write the budget with no input from the public or governor. And they pass laws that make it impossible to know who pays them. How can citizens have confidence in a system that’s guaranteed to breed corruption? They can’t, and tweaking a few ethics laws isn’t going to change that. What we need is major, across-the-board reform.”
“A grassroots movement is growing across the state to demand better from our elected officials,” said Coastal Conservation League Executive Director Dana Beach. “And if you want to know why, look no further than what is happening with I-526 here in Charleston. When seven men on the SIB board can recklessly vote to spend a half-billion dollars they don’t have on a highway their constituents don’t want, it’s time to take a stand. I’m proud to be joined by like-minded organizations from across the state in calling for change.”
In a press release several days earlier, the South Carolina Policy Council addressed Gov. Nikki Haley and Attorney General Alan Wilson traveling around the state trying to hijack the ethics reform discussion:
“The proposals last week only address a few of those essential reforms; we do not accept those limitations. We are ready to stand together as voters, activists, SC citizens, and liberty organizations across the state to let our legislators and the Governor know that we do not want them defining reform.
“ As evidenced by the 300,000 signatures gathered to redress the wrong inflicted on us by a corrupt court and do-nothing General Assembly, South Carolina voters have proven we will no longer put up with being shuffled aside as collateral while elected officials cling to their power and shore up their legacies.
“We recognize that legislators will never give South Carolina true reform, it is not in their interest, they do not have the heart, will, or selflessness that it takes to let go of the power they’ve collected and give it back to the people.
“We demand that the Governor and legislators cease their efforts of defining and controlling reform attempts and make it a priority next legislative session to immediately pass the reform requested by the voters in the form of the South Carolina Policy Council’s eight-point plan to take our power back.”
The Eight Point Plan: http://www.scpolicycouncil.org/research/reform/taking-the-power-back