South Carolina has a new and improved Lobbying Law. SECTION 2-17-5, transfers the duties and powers from the Secretary of State to the State Ethics Commission – among other things.
If you read it, you’ll notice it includes wording like this throughout: “Except as otherwise provided by Section 2-17-90”, “Notwithstanding the limitations of Section 2-17-90”, “pursuant to Section 2-17-90”.
So what does Section 2-17-90 have to say? It’s an exemption for ALEC – by name:
SECTION 2-17-90. Acts prohibited of lobbyists’ principals; acts prohibited of public officials and employees; exceptions; disclosure requirements. (…) except for:
… (a) national and regional conventions and conferences of organizations for which the General Assembly pays annual dues as a membership requirement and (b) American Legislative Exchange Council conventions and conferences;
State Rep. Boyd Brown (D-Fairfield) discovered the exemption in the lobbying law on Wednesday.
“I am disgusted that this group has been specifically exempted from ethics laws in the state of South Carolina,” said Brown in a statement. “I am appalled but not surprised that an extremist group such as ALEC wields such influence in the South Carolina General Assembly.”
This new S.C. law comes conveniently in the wake of a recent Common Cause submission “to the Internal Revenue Service under the Tax Whistleblower Act, 26 U.S.c. § 7623(b) regarding underreporting of lobbying and operation in furtherance of private corporate interests in contravention of 26 U.S.c. § 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable status.”
They’re covering the bases. Here’s a good report on the action being taken – the one they’re heading off at the pass:
Shame on South Carolina legislators!