S.C. Rep. Harold Mitchell was ordered Thursday to pay $23,387 in fines and restitution for improperly handling his campaign accounts and spending donations for non-campaign-related expenses.
For two years, the S.C. House ethics committee investigated complaints against the five-term Spartanburg Democrat sent by the state Attorney General's office after Mitchell pleaded guilty to filing his taxes late.
Mitchell will have to pay $7,387 back to his campaign for spending campaign cash on dry cleaning, repaying a personal loan, oil changes, lodging for a family displaced by Hurricane Katrina and a cell-phone bill, according to a copy of the ethics committee order. He also is reimbursing his campaign for various expenses that did not have receipts.
He will pay $16,000 in fines. That includes $5,000 for unintentional technical ethics violations for failing to maintain proper records, transferring $12,015 to a non-profit development corporation that he runs, cash withdrawals above $100 and other violations of spending cash from campaign coffers, the order said.
Never miss a local story.
The remainder of the fine, $11,000, comes from 18 violations of using contribution for non-campaign expenses.
Mitchell also must submit campaign bank statements and campaign expenditure receipts for four years, the committee said.
House Ethics Committee Chairman Kenny Bingham, R-Lexington, said Mitchell's cooperation during the investigation was taken into account in the penalties.
He called Mitchell's investigation "a case of sloppy bookkeeping."
"He's been through an awful lot," Bingham said. "He's still highly respected in the community having been re-elected" during the investigation.