CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Governor Nikki Haley and Attorney General Alan Wilson say South Carolina lawmakers and elected officials lack accountability and transparency in government. They traveled across the state saying they want to make some major changes in ethics laws.
"We think the people of South Carolina deserve better. What you are seeing right now, with what I am trying to propose with the 2013 ethics reform is a way to step South Carolina up," Gov. Nikki Haley said.
Her five proposals include:
- Making filing rules the same for all candidates, even if they currently hold office. This is the issue that forced 250 candidates off the ballot this year.
- Forcing lawmakers who are lawyers to step aside if there's a conflict of interest. For example, lawmakers must approve judges appointed to the bench.
- Requiring all elected officials to make their income public
- Freedom of information from all branches of government. Right now, the legislative branch does not have to make certain information public.
- Creating one ethics commission instead of the three currently in place
Wilson also wants just one body investigating state ethics. He'd call it the "Public Integrity Unit." It would include representatives from the State Law Enforcement Division, Department of Revenue, Ethics Commission, and House and Senate Ethics Committees.
"They will all lend their experiences and resources, whether its an auditor, forensic accountant, investigator, support staff, prosecutors, whatever resources that are need to investigate and enforce public integrity laws, as it relates to public officials," Wilson said.
The two state leaders say they will continue to meet with lawmakers, state agencies, and other groups of interest touting their ideas, and getting support for ethics reform.
They say they expect other state lawmakers to file bills to change ethics laws also for the upcoming legislative year.