Ethics reform has been one of Gov. Nikki Haley’s priority legislative issues for several years, and each year, the Legislature has arrived and departed Columbia without addressing the state’s weak and vague ethics law.
South Carolina is graded a shameful D-, and 36th nationally, in the State Integrity Investigation’s most recent assessment of state governments’ accountability and transparency laws and systems.
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The General Assembly’s refusal to strengthen the ethics law reinforces citizens’ belief that legislators are watching out for themselves instead of those who elected them.
Politicians don’t appear to share the public’s sagacious interest in integrity and accountability. Otherwise, ethics reform would have occurred long ago.
Will this be the year that the Legislature does the right thing for its constituents? There’s still time, but will it happen?
An elected official’s position is always temporary. People’s perception of whether officials are good stewards of the public’s trust ultimately determines how long they remain on the job. In putting ethics reform on the back burner year after year, elected officials are destroying the public’s trust in them. They’re also losing future votes.
Linda C. Gamble