QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"We admit that we make mistakes, and we welcome fair-minded assistance in identifying areas where we can improve. Our employees try hard to make us safer, but sometimes they get overzealous."
- State Corrections Director John Ozmint, responding to a state audit that found no major problems in the agency. Some lawmakers who requested the audit questioned the agency's hiring practices, its security measures and its conduct in a hostage situation in which an employee was raped.
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Sanford vs. the Ethics Commission: Attorneys for Gov. Mark Sanford will argue before the state Supreme Court Monday that allowing the S.C. House to see a preliminary report of the S.C. Ethics Commission case against him would be unfair to him, violating his right to due process. Sanford has asked the state's highest court to step in.
The hearing before the five Supreme Court justices is set for 2:30 p.m.
Both the House and the Ethics Commission have argued in filings with the court that the initial report should not be kept secret.
The Supreme Court has yet to decide whether to intervene. The court could side with the two-term Republican governor and block House access to the initial Ethics Commission report. Or, after Monday's hearing, the court could decline to get involved, meaning the Ethics Commission could share its findings with the House.
The Ethics Commission is expected to complete its initial report by the end of this month.
The commission is looking into Sanford's use of state airplanes, his purchase of pricey commercial plane tickets and whether he properly reported private plane rides from friends and political allies, and campaign reimbursements.
Here's what the parties have told the court so far.
- Releasing the preliminary report to House lawmakers would be unfair because it would not include Sanford's defense.
- The initial report only can be shared with a prosecutorial authority. The law, Sanford's attorneys argue, is meant to allow only criminal prosecutors access, not legislators with impeachment on their minds.
- Argues it is entitled to the Ethics Commission's initial report as a prosecutorial body. In an impeachment proceeding, the House argues that it would act as prosecutor.
- House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, argues Sanford is stalling and reneging on a pledge to make the ethics probe transparent.
- The commission says the law permits it to share the report with the House.
- However, the commission says it has not decided yet to share the report; therefore Sanford is acting prematurely in asking the high court to intervene.
- In any event, Sanford can be treated fairly without keeping the report secret.