Exclusive: Most in SC want stronger ethics laws, poll finds

ashain@thestate.comDecember 10, 2012 

A majority of South Carolinians believe state ethics laws on politicians should be more strict, according to a new Winthrop University poll.

Ethics has become a top issue on the S.C. lawmakers’ agendas after Lt. Gov. Ken Ard resigned when he pleaded guilty this spring to misusing campaign funds and Gov. Nikki Haley was cleared this summer of charges of using her office for personal gain as a state representative.

The Winthrop poll taken for The State found 56 percent of South Carolinians thought laws ought to be more strict, while 32 percent believed the laws are adequate.

Three special committees in the state House and Senate are examining ethics reform along with a commission appointed by Haley.

“Ethics normally wouldn’t rise to the level of the economy and education on a lot of peoples’ radars,” Senate Ethics Committee Chairman Wes Hayes, R-York, said. “The fact that 56 percent of people think we ought to strengthen the ethics laws shows the General Assembly needs to make this a top priority.”

Haley's ethics-reform commission is holding a public hearing from 6-8 tonight in Room 252 of Brown Building on the State House grounds.

Winthrop surveyed 929 respondents from Nov. 25 through Dec. 2. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

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