Some form of ethics reform was supposed to pass in 2013. When it didn’t, many observers thought surely 2014 would be the year. But with no major scandal prodding lawmakers to act, there seemed to be no great sentiment to pass meaningful reform. The bill’s excessive length was used, instead, to hide legislative leaders’ intention to decriminalize the ethics code and punish their critics. Later versions of the bill turned out to be obvious attempts to protect then-Speaker Bobby Harrell from prosecution and to punish Attorney General Alan Wilson for investigating Harrell. In short: South Carolina’s legislative leaders have a reputation for handling ethics reform in a – well – rather messy way.
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