State Ethics Committee Violated State Law

 State Ethics Committee Violated State Law

Governor Must Answer to the full House

By Paul Gable

The appeal of Republican operative John Rainey to House Speaker Bobby Harrell asking the full House to re-consider ethics complaints against Gov. Nikki Haley, for actions when she was a House member, virtually screams for an investigation to be opened.

The fact that stands out most in Rainey’s appeal is that just minutes before voting 5-1 to dismiss an ethics complaint by Rainey against Haley, the House Ethics Committee voted unanimously that probable cause existed to investigate the complaint.

S.C. Code of Laws Section 8-13-540 states, “If the ethics committee determines complaint alleges facts sufficient to constitute a violation, it shall promptly investigate the alleged violation and may compel by subpoena the testimony of witnesses and the production of pertinent books and papers.”

In failing to investigate the complaint and, instead, voting to dismiss it, the ethics committee violated state law. There doesn’t appear the committee is allowed any discretion in this decision as the law plainly states “shall promptly investigate.”

But the committee voted not to investigate and therein lies the rub.

After reading Rainey’s appeal, the only conclusions that can be drawn are either (1) he is a master of fiction or (2) the allegations against Haley must be investigated.


If Rainey’s facts are not fiction, there is no way the House cannot investigate the charges against Haley without the cry of “coverup” being thrown at the House leadership.

Was the committee intimidated by a veiled threat in the Haley answer to the original complaint?

Haley’s principal defense was stated, “…Governor Haley’s business activities and conduct are commonplace in the Legislature and were always consistent with the law. To find otherwise would not only impugn the integrity of many other members of the General Assembly, but also that of many of South Carolina’s best corporate partners…”

I’m not sure it is even possible to impugn the integrity of many members of the General Assembly. The people don’t believe they have any integrity anyway.

But, if others need to be investigated, so be it. It is time for an end to the clubby good ole boy network, which works to the detriment of most of the citizens of South Carolina.

Two weeks ago, the S.C. Supreme Court disqualified nearly 200 candidates from the primary ballot because they didn’t follow the law. Much as it likes to think otherwise, the House must also follow state law. After all, who wrote it?

Furthermore, it must be answered if Haley did, while a representative, (1) lobby a state agency, (2) fail to disclose her reason for recusing herself from votes, (3) failed to abstain from a vote authorizing payment of public funds to a corporation she was paid by, (4) solicited money from lobbyists and their principals for her employer and (5) concealed all this activity by making false and incomplete public disclosures.

If Haley is innocent of all these charges, as she claims, she should be calling for an investigation to clear her name rather than trying subtly to quash one.

According to Harrell’s spokesman Greg Foster, lawyers “are reviewing the law and rules to determine what options there are and how this (Rainey’s appeal) should be addressed.”

The House must investigate Haley in order to reverse the public perception of far reaching corruption in Columbia.

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