South Carolina: House wants to give power to investigate violations of “Cannons” of Judicial Conduct to new Ethics Commission, Senate rejects plan

The South Carolina House on May 22 approved a new state ethics commission (South Carolina Commission on Ethics Enforcement and Disclosure) to investigate violations of state ethics laws. While the primary focus of the bill appears to be on taking over investigation of ethics violations from the House and Senate Ethics Committees and revising the existing (executive branch) Ethics Commission, HB 3945 also reaches into the judiciary and its investigations of violations of what the bill calls the “Cannons” of Judicial Conduct.

HB 3945 provides that financial disclosure statements of judges, currently handled through the state’s Commission on Judicial Conduct under the “Cannons” would now be administered and investigated by the new Ethics Enforcement and Disclosure Commission. (New Section 8-13-415(B)). “However, the punishment or sanctions, if any, for violations and the authority to adjudicate alleged violations shall rest with the Supreme Court”.

According to media reports there will be a “showdown” next Tuesday when a House-Senate committee meets to try and reconcile the differing versions.