alan wilson to face formal ethics com...

alan wilson to face formal ethics complaint

Posted in the Columbia Forum


Fayetteville, NC

#1 Mar 28, 2013

S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson Failed to Report $134,000 in Campaign Funds

South Carolina’s attorney general, Alan Wilson, failed to report $134,000 in campaign donations and payments two years ago, something that’s just now come to light. He amended his ethics disclosure reports to correct the missing contributions last week.

Because he self-reported what his Campaign Manager Thad Westbrook characterizes as “simple clerical or scrivener’s errors,” Alan Wilson will face no late-filing penalties, according to the S.C. Ethics Commission. Officials there will run a report to make sure there aren’t any further discrepancies. But they will not request bank records from Alan Wilson’s campaign, and cannot investigate what happened without a formal complaint.

Wilson’s is the largest campaign reporting lapse the SC Ethics Commission has seen in more than a dozen years.

Alan Wilson’s own campaign finances came into question after a campaign donation he’d received from Harrell, but failed to report.

Wilson immediately said he’d return the money to neutralize the appearance of any conflict of interest in the Harrell matter.

Alan Wilson’s campaign then found more than a dozen more unreported donations and hired an accountant to review all of Alan Wilson’s campaign filings.

The accountant found much more missing money:

68 donations totaling $66,890, and
payments to 16 vendors totaling $66,797.

The accountant is still looking.

“He could easily have asked the campaign to correct the handful of errors that were initially found and stopped with that,” said his campaign manager Thad Westbrook.

The initial missing campaign filings stemmed from how Wilson paid for his inaugural ball in January 2011, after his election in 2010.

Typically, campaigns set up an independent committee to fund their inaugural parties. That way, donors don’t have to worry about exceeding campaign finance limits.

But Alan Wilson’s and Thad Westbrook decided to fund the gala through his campaign account, Westbrook said.

Dick Harpootlian said he wants the SC Ethics Commission to investigate whether Wilson’s campaign broke any laws.

“Who investigates the investigator?” Harpootlian said.

“It’s troubling to have the guy who is supposed to enforce the ethics law violating the ethics law.”

Dick Harpootlian says his party is calling on Alan Wilson to voluntarily request that the ethics agency investigate beyond what Wilson self-reported to make sure his campaign didn’t violate the law.

If Wilson declines, Harpootlian said the party would file an ethics complaint.

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