SC Ethics Commission owed $2.5M in fines

By SEANNA ADCOXAssociated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The State Ethics Commission collected nearly $230,000 in fines last fiscal year. But that's a pittance of the nearly $2.5 million that candidates, lobbyists and committees across South Carolina still owe.

The tiny agency with jurisdiction over hundreds of thousands of yearly filings relies on fines to fund about a third of its operating costs. But collecting can be difficult, especially from unsuccessful candidates.

Collections through garnished wages, tax refunds and liens accounted for 17 percent of the fines collected in 2012-13, through programs the state Revenue Department offers all agencies, for a fee. Still, the commission's latest debtors' list is 17 pages long.

Five people owe more than $100,000, stemming from cases as far back as 2002. The largest debt of $214,300 is for a Richland 1 school board candidate.

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