With just weeks before the new state legislative session gets underway, Governor Nikki Haley is making it clear that she wants at least one thing from lawmakers this time around: ethics reform.
On Wednesday the governor made her case by running down a list of elected officials in South Carolina who had violated the law in some way during her first term.
“In my administration time we have watched a Lt. Governor (Ken Ard) get indicted. We’ve watched a Speaker (Bobby Harrell) get indicted. We’ve watched a senator (Robert Ford) get indicted. And I have removed eight sheriffs. I think now is the time for ethics reform.” Haley told reporters Wednesday afternoon in the lobby of the Statehouse. “I think it’s time to say enough is enough.”
Haley said it is also about giving the taxpayers what they expect from a law-abiding state government. “This is just about a clean government. This is about a transparent government. This is about an ethical government and this is about giving the taxpayers what they deserve.” Said Haley.
The governor’s call for ethics reform came on the same day as former Lexington County Sheriff James Metts’ proposed plea agreement was rejected by a federal judge. Metts is one of those sheriffs the governor mentioned she had to remove during her first term.
A federal grand jury indicted Metts in June on multiple counts of accepting cash bribes to let illegal Mexican aliens out of his jail and let them avoid deportation.
Metts will now go to trial in January.
As for what she’s looking for in ethics reform legislation, Haley said she want’s two things especially: full income disclosure from legislators and independent investigations of legislators that are handled outside of the House Ethics Committee and the Senate Ethics Committee.