By Paul Gable
It is possible, some say probable, that an ethics reform bill will pass the S.C. General Assembly and be signed into law before sine die June 5th.
But, it really won’t be much of a law.
The key ingredient, an independent ethics commission to investigate allegations of ethics violations against members of the House and Senate, will be missing.
It took legislators all of about 30 days to change state law with regard to beer brewing in an effort to lure Stone Brewing Co. to Myrtle Beach.
But, when it comes to allowing an independent body to oversee the ethics of state legislators – forget it.
At this point, it looks as if some minor changes, most notably requiring legislators and their families to disclose all sources of income, banning leadership political action committees and redefining political campaign committees so they must file campaign finance disclosure reports, will become law.
Those changes are good, especially the one about redefining political campaign committees. Since the Citizens United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, there has effectively been no disclosure from political campaign committees in South Carolina.
Maybe we can learn who is funding the Myrtle Beach city council incumbents next time around.
But, real ethics change won’t come until the legislators are removed from overseeing their own destiny and that of their peers.
Until then, Bobby Harrell can continue his free-wheeling ways, especially as long as Casey Manning remains on the bench.