Baby steps toward ethics reform in South Carolina

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Legislators in South Carolina have taken initial steps toward what could be the first major overhaul of the state’s ethics rules in twenty years. As the Free Times reported this morning, government watchdog groups rattled off their wish lists at a hearing held last week by a panel of state House Democrats. South Carolina earned an overall grade of F for corruption risk from the State Integrity Investigation earlier this year, and fallout from that report — along with a series of recent ethics scandals — appears to have built political consensus on the need for reforms, said John Crangle of South Carolina Common Cause.

Among the changes called for at the hearing: more robust financial disclosure requirements, new rules on PACs and the creation of a more independent ethics oversight body. State leaders have formed four separate panels to help shape a reform package, one convened by each party in the state House, one by the majority Republicans in the Senate and one at the direction of GOP Gov. Nikki Haley.

The House Republican panel will hold its first hearing Thursday morning. Crangle said it’s too early to say whether the legislature will take recommendations from the panels and adopt substantive changes in the 2013 legislative session.

Read more at the Free Times.