SC Statehouse for sale

State House for Sale: Where does the money go? Reimbursements

October 6, 2013 

S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell

FILE PHOTOGRAPH — the state

The state ethics law allows lawmakers to reimburse themselves for campaign or office-related expenses from their campaign accounts. And some do handsomely, leading to questions. One top reimburser, state Sen. Robert Ford, D-Charleston, resigned last year during an ethics investigation into his use of campaign money. Another, House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, is the subject of an ongoing investigation into his use of campaign money. A Harrell spokesman said he uses campaign money instead of taxpayer money to support his Charleston office and his legislative travel, including a recent trip to Washington to testify at a federal hearing examining the legality of the state’s voter identification law. A look at the Top 10 state lawmakers ranked by how much they reimbursed themselves from their campaign funds. (The numbers come from the most recent election cycle for the Senate, 2009-12, and the House, 2011-12, plus the first two fund-raising quarters of 2013.)

1. Rep. Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston – $101,336.38

2. Rep. Liston Barfield, R-Horry – $40,707.48

3. Sen. Robert Ford, D-Charleston – $37,928.61 (1)

4. Rep. Bill Sandifer, R-Oconee – $20,225.79

5. Sen. Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence – $15,163

6. Rep. Jim Merrill, R-Berkeley – $14,350.04

7. Rep. Mike Pitts, R-Laurens – $12,517.94

8. Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville – $11,440.65

9. Rep. Brian White, R-Anderson – $9,395.17

10. Rep. Mike Gambrell, R-Anderson – $7,977.17

Total for all legislators – $386,683.97

(1) Resigned May 31 during a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into his use of campaign fund for personal expenses

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