Broader income disclosures struck in Senate ethics debate

jself@thestate.comFebruary 27, 2014 


A proposal to require lawmakers to disclose the sources and amounts of their income — public or private — received only a few minutes’ attention Wednesday before it was struck down during the state Senate’s debate of an ethics-reform bill.

Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Kershaw — Republican Gov. Nikki Haley’s presumed Democratic opponent in November — offered the amendment to an ethics package that Haley and Sheheen have been pushing for more than a year.

Sheheen’s attempt to insert stronger income disclosures into the bill is just one idea of many that lawmakers have discussed as part of their effort to toughen state laws governing the behavior of public officials.

Under current law, public officials are required to disclose their public sources of income and the amount that they are paid but not private sources or sums. The ethics proposal in the Senate would require disclosure of private sources of income as well. Haley also has pushed for broader disclosure of private income, including the amounts paid if they come from an entity that lobbies the Legislature or has government contracts.

Sheheen told fellow senators that he would make his plea quick. “This amendment is simple. It would require full and real income disclosure. It doesn’t hurt. We should do it.”

No one else in the 46-member Senate spoke in favor of the proposal, which, Sheheen said, did not surprise him.

“The undercurrent for the last week and a half has been talking about this amendment,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of discussions with people attempting to persuade them to support it. Unfortunately, the support just wasn’t there.”

Larry Martin, chairman of the Senate’s powerful Judiciary Committee, quickly made a motion to reject the amendment, which was struck down in a swift voice vote.

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