June 15, 2011 •
Lobbyists and lobbyist’s principals can no longer register, reregister, or continue to be registered in South Carolina if they have outstanding late filing penalties.
House Bill 3183, which Governor Nikki Haley recently signed into law, prohibits the State Ethics Commission from allowing delinquent lobbyists and lobbyist’s principals to participate in lobbying until the fines and filing have been remedied.
The bill also delineates what the fines and penalties are for late filing. Persons filing late are first fined $100 if a report is not filed within 10 days of the due date. After receiving notice by certified or registered mail that a required report has not been filed, there is a $10 a day fine for the first 10 days after receiving the notice. The fine increases to $100 a day for each additional day the required report is not filed, capping at $5,000.
If the report is still not filed, the offender faces an additional misdemeanor conviction with imprisonment or fines.
Flag of South Carolina courtesy of mapsof.net.
June 7, 2011 •
High Court Rules
The South Carolina Supreme Court has ruled the Legislature does not have to meet today in a special session called by Governor Nikki Haley.
In a 3 to 2 decision, the court denied the special session, writing: “Although the General Assembly is currently in recess, it has not adjourned sine die and, therefore, is still in its annual session. Under these specific facts, respondent cannot convene an ‘extra’ session of the General Assembly since it is currently in session. To do so would interrupt the annual session and would violate the General Assembly’s authority to set its calendar and agenda and would constitute a violation of the separation of powers provision.”
The Legislature will meet in a previously scheduled session on June 14.
This blog post follows up a previous article “South Carolina’s Extra Special Session” by George Ticoras on June 3.
June 3, 2011 •
Will They Meet?
The regular session of the South Carolina Legislature adjourned on June 2 and a special session is scheduled for June 14. However, Governor Nikki Haley has requested an earlier additional special session for June 7 to pass further legislation, but the elected representatives may not convene.
While House Speaker Bobby Harrell has instructed house members to return on June 7, Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell has said the senate will not return, even though both the governor and Senator McConnell are in the same political party.
Several legislators challenge the governor’s legal authority to convene a special session without extraordinary circumstances.
March 15, 2011 •
Money To Be Split
The House has included a provision in their appropriations bill which would double lobbyists’ registration fees. House Bill 3700 increases lobbyist and lobbyist’s principal registration fees to $200. The State Ethics Commission would retain fifty percent of the increased fee and the remaining fifty percent would go to the state’s general fund.
Also included in the bill is a provision precluding the State Ethics Commission staff from making any public comment which in any way reflects a personal opinion on any matter which is before the commission.
March 1, 2011 •
Bi-partisan Effort in South Carolina
Republican Senator Jake Knotts and Democratic Senator Vincent Sheheen have announced they are submitting a bill banning leadership PACs in the Senate. Leadership PACs normally may accept contributions from lobbyists and have different contribution amounts than other campaign accounts.
Senator Sheheen said, “I want to help restore voter’s trust in government. This bill is one step to make sure elected officials answer to the voters, not wealthy contributors.”
Currently there is no member of the Senate who has a Leadership PAC.
February 24, 2011 •
Response to Current Unconstitutional State Definition
Robert W. Hayes, Jr., Chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee has introduced a bill to redefine the definitions of committees involved in political campaigns and to add a definition of ‘independent expenditure committee.’ Senate Bill 0593 is a response to South Carolina Citizens for Life, Inc. v Krawcheck, a federal court decision finding the state’s definition of committee unconstitutional.
Based on the court decision, the State Ethics Commission announced in October of 2010 it would not enforce provisions of the state law concerning making independent expenditures. Among the refined definitional changes in the bill is wording specifically detailing the major purpose of the committees, usually for the support or opposition of a ballot issue or election of a candidate. In the bill, an ‘independent expenditure committee’ is defined as an association, a club, an organization, a group of persons or a person whose major purpose is to support or oppose the nomination or election of a candidate to elective office and makes independent expenditures in excess of $5,000 during an election cycle.
This post is an update to two previous Lobby Comply articles by George Ticoras:
“South Carolina Defines Committee Too Broadly” from September 20
February 21, 2011 •
$10 Fine Enough For List
The State Ethics Commission has created a ‘Debtors’ page on its web site, posting the names of lobbyists, lobbyists’ principals, public officials and others who have failed to pay late filing penalties and enforcement fines. The commission hopes to use this publicly available consolidated listing to help ensure compliance with the registration and disclosure requirements under the campaign finance and lobbying laws of the state.
The penalties owed range from $732,400 all the way down to $10. The page includes contact information for anyone appearing in the list to arrange for payment.
December 9, 2010 •
Composition Of Council Suggested
Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin is pursuing the creation of a local ethics commission to replace the city’s reliance on the state. Currently, city ethics issues are resolved by South Carolina’s ethics commission. Mayor Benjamin believes reliance on a local commission with local ordinances would better serve Columbia and its city council.
The seven member commission would be made up of four residents from each of the council’s four political districts, a certified public accountant, a local business owner and an attorney. The attorney, who would serve as chairman, must not have done business with the city.
Photo of downtown Columbia by Akhenaton06 on Wikipedia.
October 19, 2010 •
New Law Required
The State Ethics Commission will not appeal South Carolina Citizens for Life, Inc. v Krawcheck, a federal court decision finding South Carolina’s statutory definition of committee unconstitutional. The commission has already voluntarily announced it will not enforce provisions of the law concerning committees making independent expenditures.
State Ethics Commission Executive Director Herb Hayden says groups can now both raise and spend unlimited amounts of money and likely will not have to report their donors. He and Senate Ethics Committee Chairman Wes Hayes say a new law is needed to govern committee contribution limits.
September 22, 2010 •
Lacks Power to Declare Statute Unconstitutional
The State Ethics Commission will not enforce contribution limits for committees making expenditures independent of a candidate’s control or consultation. An earlier requested Attorney General’s opinion found a committee engaging exclusively in independent expenditures is not subject to annual contribution limits.
The Attorney General also confirmed the Ethics Commission did not have the power to declare S.C.C. §8-13-1322(A) unconstitutional. The Ethics Commission then issued an Advisory Opinion declaring the Commission would not enforce any contributions limits under S.C.C. §8-13-1322(A) for committees making independent expenditures.
September 20, 2010 •
Court Finds Part of Ethics Statute Unconstitutional
A U.S. District Court has invalidated a South Carolina statute defining committees, including those commonly known as PACs. In South Carolina Citizens for Life, Inc. v Krawcheck, the Court found the South Carolina Ethics Act placed significant burdens on groups qualifying as committees without giving meaningful consideration of a group’s major purpose, threatening to chill their First Amendment rights. Specifically, the definition of committee in S.C.C. §8-13-1300(6) could encompass any group, without reference to the entity’s major purpose, and was unconstitutionally overbroad.
Photo of the South Carolina statehouse by Nikopoley on Wikipedia.
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