South Carolina governor faces ethics hearing over donations

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 11, 2012 3:59 PM

By Harriet McLeod

CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Reuters) - A state ethics commission is investigating allegations that South Carolina Republican Governor Nikki Haley did not report some campaign donors' addresses or maintain proper record of the occupations for hundreds of contributors.

Ethics commissioners sent a letter on March 29 finding that "probable cause exists to support the alleged violation," and set a formal hearing for July 18. The finding is just now gaining media attention.

The complaint against the governor, filed last summer on behalf of the South Carolina Democratic Party, alleges that Haley's campaign misreported more than $1.3 million in campaign contributions by failing to collect required donor information.

The ethics commission hearing will focus on allegations that six donors' addresses were missing and the Haley campaign failed to keep records of some donors' occupations.

Haley could be fined up to $14,000 if she is found to have violated state ethics law, according to the commission.

The governor's campaign said it already had provided the commission with four of the six missing addresses. The remaining two donors contributed "a total of $326.78," Haley campaign attorney Butch Bowers said on Wednesday.

The campaign will treat those as anonymous donations and give the money to the nonprofit Children's Trust, which is allowed under ethics rules, he said.

"Our hope is that we will resolve it with the ethics commission without a hearing," Bowers said. "We believe that there shouldn't be a fine. There's no violation."

(Editing By Colleen Jenkins and Cynthia Osterman)