Candidates for public office would not be disqualified for improperly filing paperwork, according to a compromise approved by a legislative committee Tuesday. The proposal, S.2, comes after a state Supreme Court decision last year that led to the removal of more than 200 candidates from ballots statewide because they did not file a hard copy of their statements of economic interest, as the law requires. The fiasco ended up costing the state and political parties thousands of dollars in lawsuits. Because the court decision did not impact incumbents, it aborted tough re-election contests that had been expected for some moderate Republicans. The decision also sowed seeds of distrust among voters, prompting some candidates to run on a platform of reforming the state’s ethics laws.
“Everyone files electronically, everyone is treated the same, whether you are an incumbent or a challenger,” state Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Charleston, said of the compromise.
If candidates do not file their statements of economic interest they would be subject to fines. If a candidate wins an election and does not file a statement of economic interest, he or she would be prevented from taking office, Campsen said.
The bill also would require candidates for public office to file for office with local or state election officials, instead of local or state political party officials.