The S.C. Senate Ethics Committee on Monday fined retiring state Sen. Raymond Cleary $41,900 and ordered he pay back tens of thousands more after allegations the Georgetown Republican misused his campaign account.
The committee also publicly reprimanded the 68-year-old Murrells Inlet dentist, who last week apologized for “sloppy bookkeeping” he says he did not complete himself.
Cleary was ordered to pay $41,900 in fines to the committee by Dec. 1, reimburse $47,831.85 to his campaign account, pay the Children’s Trust Fund of South Carolina $7,500 and reimburse the S.C. Senate $27,415 for the cost of its investigation.
Efforts to reach Cleary on Monday afternoon were unsuccessful. But he has denied using campaign donations for personal expenses.
The committee said Cleary from 2013 through 2015:
▪ Incorrectly filed reports saying he had refunded his account $7,900 last year for a planned trip to Israel and Turkey he never took. A later deposit of $7,500 fell $400 short of full reimbursement.
▪ Misrepresented on campaign forms the payees or payment amounts for nine campaign expenses totaling $13,152.49
▪ Failed to report six campaign expenditures totaling $7,700.83 made between January 2013 and December 2015
▪ Failed to provide documentation justifying $6,950.16 in reimbursements to himself
▪ Failed to provide documentation verifying $7,267.61 in direct payments to credit card companies were business expenses
▪ Failed to report “numerous” campaign contributions totaling $13,120 in 2013, 2014 and 2015
Cleary has 10 days to appeal the order to the full Senate. He announced last year he would not seek re-election in 2016.