“SC politicians, lobbyists and more owe $2.4m in ethics fines, but many will never pay”

“The Ethics Commission has limited legal tools to collect from people on the list.”

Columbia’s The State newspaper called on Collins & Lacy attorney Michael Burchstead for insight into ethics law in the Palmetto State.

Reporter Lucas Daprile wrote, “SC politicians, lobbyists and more owe $2.4m in ethics fines, but many will never pay.”

An excerpt:

South Carolina ethics commission

“Current law says those who fail to file the appropriate forms must pay $10 per report for every day after they’re notified they owe.


But after 10 days, that increases to $100 per missing report per day. The commission can also impose a penalty on top of that. Current law caps the maximum fines at $5,000, but until 2011, there was no ceiling to how much one would owe. But for some, the law still needs a change.


“When you get a $2,000 substantive ethics violation and you get a $5,000 fine for not filing a form, that’s a problem for me,” Burchstead said.


One way to fix this, Burchstead says, would be to have one set of tougher rules for people running for governor, Senate and the House of Representatives and another standard for local government candidates.”

Read more from The State.

Michael R. Burchstead leads the Government, Ethics and Compliance Practice at Collins & Lacy. He was General Counsel for the South Carolina State Ethics Commission from 2015 until 2017.

About Collins & Lacy, P.C.

Collins & Lacy is a statewide business defense firm in South Carolina that delivers legal representation for our clients through solid preparation, execution, and client-oriented service aimed at success. Located in the State’s capital city of Columbia, the firm represents local, regional and national clients in the areas of construction; hospitality/retail and entertainment law; insurance/bad faith; products liability; professional liability; commercial transportation; privacy, data management, and cybersecurity; mediation; criminal defense; and governmental affairs/issue advocacy.