Ethics Reform – Not So Fast

Ethics at the SC Ethics Commission

By Paul Gable

A recent story in The Nerve detailed the internet publication’s difficulties in obtaining a letter from the SC Ethics Commission to Gov. Nikki Haley.

According to the story, a freedom of information request was sent September 5, 2013 to the commission requesting a copy of an August 28, 2013 letter commission attorney Cathy Hazelwood wrote to Gov. Nikki Haley directing the governor to reimburse the state for travel costs incurred by her and her campaign staff during a June trip to North Carolina.

Initially, commission executive director Herb Hayden responded by saying no such letter was sent.

Follow up FOIA requests resulted in Hayden replying that both the hard copy and electronic copy of the letter was destroyed.

Another request for the letter was made after a November 17, 2013 story by the Associated Press, which said it had obtained a copy of the letter. This request was answered by an electronic copy of the letter being sent to The Nerve.

The use of state employees, specifically Haley’s security detail, during the June trip from which the Haley campaign returned with $34,500 in campaign contributions, has been the subject of considerable questions since.

Hayden is appointed by the nine election commissioners who are appointed by the governor.

If it is so difficult to get the SC Ethics Commission to properly respond to a valid FOIA request for public information, why should any public official respond differently?

Of course, the answer to that question is many don’t respond differently. That’s why ethics is a joke in South Carolina.

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One Comment

  1. Hell, the SC General Assembly has exempted itself from the FOIA, no really they have.

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