A state senator from Marion County has been publicly reprimanded for improperly reporting his campaign contributions, according to legislative documents.
In its meeting last month, the Senate Ethics Committee found that State Sen. Kent Williams (D-Marion) committed 15 violations of South Carolina’s campaign finance reporting laws. The State newspaper in Columbia first reported the reprimand on Sunday.
One of the issues was how Williams reported $5,000 on his July 2009 and October 2010 campaign disclosure forms. Williams said the money was used to pay off loans that he had taken out for his last campaign. But, while helping Williams with a discrepancy in what he thought was his loan balance, the committee’s staff reviewed bank records and found the payments were never made. Instead the donations were used for his current campaign, the committee report said. The potential misreporting is an issue because, while there is normally a $1,000 limit on campaign donations, state law provides an exception if the donation is used to pay off debt.
The report called the misrepresentations “deliberate attempts to mislead the public.”
Williams is also accused of accepting 10 contributions that were over the $1,000 limit for a total excess amount of $7,800.
Williams was ordered to repay the $7,800, plus make $5,000 in debt payments and pay an additional $5,400 in fines.
Williams told the Marion Star that the matter had been resolved. “It was an oversight on my part and they (Senate Ethics Committee) called my attention to it,” he said. “I’m a person like anyone else. I made a mistake and I have fixed it.”
He is running unopposed this year.