Public officials who refuse to pay their fines for skirting the state’s ethics laws can keep their powerful posts indefinitely.
Reporters Avery Wilks and Joey Cranney learned that, unlike other states, nothing in South Carolina law prevents people who owe fines to the state Ethics Commission from continuing to hold or seek office. And they do.
Scores of them have won re-election while stiff-arming the state’s ethics watchdog, a strapped agency with little authority to collect on its fines. We found that nearly $2.9 million was owed by 370 politicians and local officials.