Tag: Operation Lost Trust

Ethics Reform Commission Actions

Gov. Nikki Haley’s Ethics Reform Commission continued its work yesterday with another public hearing soliciting comments on how to reform and strengthen ethics laws in South Carolina.

The commission is scheduled to summarize comments and testimony January 8, 2013 and draft recommendations. On January 22nd it will discuss final recommendations and written report with January 28th being the date the report will be presented to the governor, the General Assembly and the public.

This all sounds great, but it probably isn’t going anywhere. It will take legislative action by the General Assembly and we don’t see that happening beyond some minor, face-saving measures being passed.

House Candidate Releases Ethics Reform Plan

House Candidate Releases Ethics Reform Plan

House District 78 candidate Beth Bernstein released a seven-point ethics reform plan for state legislators yesterday.

Bernstein’s plan hits at the root causes of many of the ethics problems we find at the state level. Placing ethics investigations into the hands of an independent agency, rather than by peer panels, and term limits for all legislators would go a long way to improving ethics in the General Assembly.

When Operation Lost Trust erupted 20 years ago, putting both lobbyists and lawmakers in jail, changes were made to state ethics laws. Normally these types of changes are made to tighten laws to eliminate illegal actions.

Nikki Haley and Lost Trust II

Twenty-two years ago, it took a sting operation by the FBI to clean up some of the corruption and vote buying prevalent among General Assembly legislators and lobbyists.

Known as Operation Lost Trust, the sting resulted in 27 people, 17 of them legislators, going to jail. It was called the largest legislative public corruption prosecution in history.

Has anything really changed over the intervening period? Yes and no. The corruption is still there, only the tactics have changed.

Last week, the House Ethics Committee decided to take another look at the ethics charges filed by Republican fundraiser John Rainey against Gov. Nikki Haley.