A government ethics reform bill awaiting debate in the South Carolina House has been under criticism for being less stringent, actually decriminalizing certain violations.
Gov. Nikki Haley, who has pushed for sweeping reform, told South Carolina Radio Network that the new bill is not acceptable.
“We were as surprised as anybody to see the decriminalization happen. We have letters on the desks of all the legislators saying we do not support that, we need them to fix it. If they are going to do an ethics bill, do it right or don’t do…we don’t need anybody to play games with this. This is pretty serious,” Haley said Tuesday.
Before the specific language of the bill was published, Haley had praised the House Judiciary Committee for its action Wednesday:
“Passing the strongest ethics reform in South Carolina history will be a huge step forward for the state, and we appreciate the progress the House made today. We look forward to working with the House and Senate to finish the job beginning next week and celebrating with the people of our state when we sign ethics reform into law this year.”
Haley says she still stands by the proposal her ethics commission put forward which toughens up on legislative ethics reform and would add power and scope to the State Ethics Commission including oversight of the General Assembly’s activities.
“We need to let them know that we’re watching and when they do make a turn like this, whether it was known or not known, it’s our job to fix it, Haley said.
“This is a bill we have said we want this year, a bill we have said needs to be stronger, this is a bill that we are going to continue to push and kind of hold their feet to the fire until we get one,” Haley added.
Sen. Vincent Sheheen who is running for governor in 2014, leveled criticism directly at Haley today on the House ethics bill.
In a release, he “urged Governor Haley for leadership instead of hiding behind yet another bureaucratic commission while her followers do the dirty work of decriminalizing some of the most common ethics violations – many of which she was accused of herself.”
Rob Godfrey, Haley spokesman immediately responded: “Glad to see Vince Sheheen has decided to join the conversation on ethics reform that the governor and the rest of South Carolina have been having for months – we hope that means that he can deliver the votes of his Senate Democratic colleagues this year, and we’ll certainly be watching to see that he does.”