One of the most visible ways that the state of South Carolina pushes for ethical behavior is the Statement of Economic Interests that is submitted to the SC Ethics Commission. There are several types of municipal officials required to submit this document, such as elected officials, candidates for office, chief administrative officers by whatever title, such as city/town manager or city/town administrator. Chief financial officers by any title, including finance directors and treasurers, are required to submit the statement as well, as are procurement officers.
While the Statement of Economic Interest is due every year by March 30, officials are expected to be mindful of their actions the rest of the year, too. This is where the Rules of Conduct of the SC Ethics Reform Act come in. The Municipal Association has a summary of these rules. Here are some basics:
- A public official/employee cannot “knowingly use his official office, membership, or employment to influence a government decision to obtain an economic interest for himself, a member of his immediate family, an individual with whom he is associated, or a business with which he is associated.”
- Items of value cannot be given or promised to a public official or employee with the intent of influencing that person’s official duties, nor can public officials or employees seek anything of value in exchange for official activity.
- Public officials/employees cannot receive anything of value for speaking before a public or private group in their official capacity, but they can accept meals that are provided to all participants in the group, and they can accept reimbursement of actual expenses incurred.
- Public officials/employees cannot hire or otherwise advance family members to positions the officials/employees supervise.
- Public officials/employees who participate directly in procurement may not resign and accept employment with a government contractor in cases where the contract between the contractor and government would have fallen under their official responsibility.
The Municipal Association’s Municipal Elected Officials Institute of Government offers courses that explain ethical compliance in South Carolina.