Testimony before Commission on Ethics Reform

    LANDESS ASKS GOVERNOR’S COMMISSION ON ETHICS REFORM TO CONSIDER DEPTH OF PROBLEM [Note: the following is testimony by SCPC President Ashley Landess before Gov. Nikki Haley’s Commission on Ethics Reform, on Tuesday, January 22, 2013. Video available here.] Thank you for this second opportunity to speak to you today. We at the SCPC […]

Why the State’s Open Budget Law Matters

LAWMAKERS SHOULD QUIT MAKING EXCUSES AND FOLLOW THE LAW   Two years ago, the Policy Council discovered a provision in state law requiring House and Senate appropriations committees to meet in joint open sessions on the governor’s proposed spending plan. This would be a break with all known past tradition. For decades, South Carolina lawmakers […]

Abolishing the Ethics Committees

  CAN SOMETHING SO SIMPLE REALLY BE SO DIFFICULT? Among the state’s commentators and editorialists, ethics reform is expected to be the issue of the 2013 legislative session. What exactly “ethics reform” means depends on whom you ask. The Policy Council does not take the view that reforming our ethics laws should require a lot […]

Ethics Reform: Some Re-Gifting Ideas

A FEW IDEAS WORTH KEEPING FOR NEXT YEAR . . . The 2013 legislative session will begin in January, and many lawmakers and pundits have predicted that this will be the year of “ethics reform.” We don’t know what “ethics reform” will mean yet – a genuine overhaul of Columbia’s culture of secret deal-making, cronyism, […]

Who Investigates?

IS THERE A ‘CONTROLLING LEGAL AUTHORITY’ HERE? In 1997, when Vice President Al Gore was questioned about suspicious campaign fund-raising activities, he claimed repeatedly that he didn’t know it was illegal. “My counsel tells me,” said the Vice President, “there is no controlling legal authority that says that is any violation of the law.” Whatever […]

Freedom of Information?

FOR A ‘FREEDOM OF INFORMATION’ LAW, OURS DOESN’T ALLOW VERY MUCH INFORMATION Want information about the way a state agency uses your tax dollars? Here’s the good news: nearly every agency of any size employs a full-time Public Information Officer whose job – as the title implies – is to provide the public with information […]

The Rules Apply to Everyone. (Except Us.)

WHY THE HOUSE & SENATE ETHICS COMMITTEES SHOULDN’T EXIST – AND WHY IT MATTERS South Carolina is often said – correctly – to be dominated by the legislature. What does that mean, exactly? Partly it means that the General Assembly takes the lion’s share of power over most areas of state government. But it also means […]