Center for Public Integrity: Capitol Gains: S.C. politicians use office to pad pockets


In practice, candidates in South Carolina and elsewhere often stretch the boundary between what’s personal and what’s for their campaigns. Federal ethics laws, similar to those in South Carolina, allow candidates to use funds for both campaign- and office-related expenses. As in South Carolina, funds in some cases may even be used for gifts, provided that only a small amount is spent and that they are not for family members, said Paul S. Ryan, senior counsel with Campaign Legal Center, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit opposed to the influence of big money on local and national politics. ...

Lawrence M. Noble, another senior counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, said that using campaign donations to pay ethics fines seems wrong on its face. Yet, he noted that South Carolina’s weak ethics laws and tepid enforcement are relatively common among the states.

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