The idea of requiring S.C. candidates pay their state ethics fines before they are certified to get on the election ballot was floated at a budget hearing Tuesday.
The S.C. Ethics Commission has about $2.5 million in unpaid fines dating back to 2000, agency director Herb Hayden.
Much of the unpaid fines come from candidates who fail to win and have little incentive to pay. But about 40 percent is owed by current office holders and nothing bars them from running even if they owe the state.
"We have nothing to hold over these people," Hayden told lawmakers at a House budget subcommittee hearing.
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The commission collected $189,000 in fines and filing late fees in 2012-13.
Illinois requires candidates have no state debt -- including taxes -- before allowing candidates on the ballot, ethics commission attorney Cathy Hazelwood told the subcommittee.
Lawmakers on the budget subcommittee did not say if they would make changes to an ethics-reform proposal that would help gather the unpaid cash, though State Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg, suggested perhaps garnishing their salaries or per diem payments of more recent violators.