US - Charleston representative files ‘Corruption Prevention Act’

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The Democratic state representative who won the seat formerly held by House Speaker Bobby Harrell pre-filed her own ethics legislation Thursday.

Mary Tinkler, D-Charleston, filed the “Corruption Prevention Act of 2015” to reform campaign laws, including requiring lawmakers get approval from an independent ethics body before reimbursing themselves $500 or more from a campaign account.

“It’s just another way to make sure that we, as lawmakers, are being held accountable and are certainly transparent with those who give us campaign contributions and also with our voters,” Tinkler said.

A committee created by new House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Darlington, plans to take up other ethics proposals Monday, including revamping the State Ethics Commission to investigate all ethics complaints. Those proposals likely will be pre-filed as bills next Thursday.

The State Ethics Commission could be the appropriate body to independently investigate lawmakers, Tinkler said.

“It has become apparent in time that we are unable to police ourselves,” she said. “It’s just a way for us to, again, prevent corruption.”

Tinkler’s proposal would eliminate the House and Senate ethics committees.

It also would set term limits for all lawmakers. Terms would be limited to four for House members, who serve two-year terms, and three for senators, who serve four-year terms. “It’s a way for us to make sure that there aren’t career politicians,” she said.

Tinkler’s proposal also would:

•  Ban lawmakers from raising campaign money during the legislative session.

•  Establish a seven-member Reapportionment Commission that independently would draw competitive districts “rather than letting lawmakers protect their own political interests,” she said.

All Republican and Democratic House incumbents who ran in the November general election were re-elected to their seats, in part because of heavily gerrymandered districts — drawn by lawmakers — that favor candidates from one party or the other.

Tinkler won her historically-Republican seat after Harrell, a Charleston Republican, entered a guilty plea to ethics charges and withdrew from the election.

SOURCE: The State, December 11th, 2014,