The leaders of the Republican and Democratic caucuses in the state legislature announced they would each appoint ethics study committees to “charged with presenting strong ethics reform legislation to the House of Representatives in 2013,” according to a news release.
Majority Leader Kenny Bingham of Lexington and Minority Leader Harry Ott of Calhoun will decide who serves on the committees, which will meet separately. However, both leaders said they would encourage representatives to “collaborate and share ideas” as they meet throughout the fall.
“These reforms and added transparency efforts will help ensure the public that our ethics laws are being followed and enforced, therefore making it much more difficult for members to be unfairly attacked for actually complying with the law,” said House Speaker Bobby Harrell, who has been criticized for reimbursing himself with $326,000 of campaign money without providing itemized invoices, according to an analysis by the Post and Courier in Charleston. “ This is another opportunity for us to set politics aside and deal with a very important issue facing our state."
In the state Senate, president pro tempore John Courson, R-Richland, has appointed his own ethics study committee. And Gov. Nikki Haley traveled the state in August with state Attorney General Alan Wilson to talk about her ethics reform ideas -- both signs that the topic will be a major issue when the legislature reconvenes in January.