Several government watchdogs told state House lawmakers this week that weaknesses in ethics law prevent the public from knowing about corruption that occurs there. The indictment of suspended House Speaker Bobby Harrell last month loomed over the ethics study committee proceedings.
Common Cause of South Carolina director John Crangle said Harrell had used his campaign account to pay for his plane and insurance office staff. “Campaign money is raised by the candidates who are asking for the money for the purpose of running their campaigns. It should not be used for any other purpose.” Crangle said. Crangle said the Harrell case shows that legislators should not police their own members saying the Speaker wields such power.
South Carolina Policy Council president Ashley Landess said the Speaker’s position is possibly the most powerful in state government due to his involvement in panels that pick judges.
Tega Cay Republican Rep. Ralph Norman said true ethics reform would not have been possible while Harrell was Speaker.