Release: Policy Council, Allies Propose Far-Reaching Reforms

Politicians Shouldn’t Be in Charge of Ethics Reform, SCPC President Says

Columbia, S.C. – August 29, 2012 – Today South Carolina Policy Council President Ashley Landess stood with an ideologically diverse group of allies to remind the state’s political leaders what real ethics reform looks like. Landess was joined by Dana Beach, Executive Director of the Coastal Conservation League; Talbert Black, Coordinator of South Carolina Campaign for Liberty; Harry Kibler, head of Operation Lost Vote; and Johns Island civil rights activist William Saunders.

The group contended that the culture of secret deal-making, cronyism, and self-enrichment at the heart of state government won’t change without sweeping reforms. Among those reforms: opening the state’s secretive incentives process; forcing all state agencies, including the legislature and executive agencies, to follow the state’s Freedom of Information law; limiting lobbyists’ influence by shortening legislative sessions; and enforcing state laws requiring an open budget process.

“We can no longer ignore the connection between corruption and the concentration of power,” said Policy Council President Ashley Landess. “South Carolina has the most powerful, least accountable politicians in the nation – and until we change that, we’ll never change anything else. A handful of politicians control the legislature, the judicial branch, and most state agencies. They cut billion-dollar deals in secret. They ignore state law and write the budget with no input from the public or governor. And they pass laws that make it impossible to know who pays them. How can citizens have confidence in a system that’s guaranteed to breed corruption? They can’t, and tweaking a few ethics laws isn’t going to change that. What we need is major, across-the-board reform.”

“A grassroots movement is growing across the state to demand better from our elected officials,” said Coastal Conservation League Executive Director Dana Beach. “And if you want to know why, look no further than what is happening with I-526 here in Charleston. When seven men on the SIB board can recklessly vote to spend a half-billion dollars they don’t have on a highway their constituents don’t want, it’s time to take a stand. I’m proud to be joined by like-minded organizations from across the state in calling for change.”

(Note: See the Coastal Conservation League’s map showing which counties receive the most SCTIB money in relation to where SCTIB appropriators and board members live can be seen below.)

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