Project Income Disclosure 2017
Want to know who’s paying your lawmakers? Ask them.
South Carolina has some of the weakest income disclosure laws in the nation. With just a little savvy, an elected official can engage in direct conflicts of interest – and it’s completely legal. A South Carolina lawmaker, for example, can legally draw income from clients who benefit directly from his or her official decisions, and the public will know little or nothing about it.
In 2016, the General Assembly passed legislation supposedly tightening disclosure requirements, but the new law has two giant loopholes. First, the “LLC loophole” – lawmakers can set up a limited liability company, have all their income paid to the LLC, and “disclose” that as their income source. In that case, their constituents are none the wiser.
Second, the new law doesn’t place any requirements on government income. Lawmakers can contract and subcontract with multiple government agencies, make official decisions affecting those agencies, and disclose nothing about the relationship to the public. (For more background info, click here.)
The state’s disclosure law, in short, isn’t much help.
What can you do about it?
We’ve designed a way to enable you to find out what your lawmakers earn, and who they earn it from. An outgrowth of Project Conflict Watch from 2014, Project Income Disclosure enables you to ask your lawmakers the right questions about their sources of income. Here’s how to do it:
1. Download the Project Income Disclosure form here.
2. Email or print and mail it to your representative and senator and ask them to fill it out and send it back to you.
3. If they send it back to you – or not – forward their responses to us and we’ll post the forms online.
If you’re not sure who your lawmakers are, find out here. For mailing addresses, click on the lawmaker’s name (the Statehouse website lists both home and office addresses for most lawmakers – use either).