Monday, January 29, 2007

South Carolina House of Representatives considers banning citizens from discussing ethics complaints

South Carolina citizens who file an ethics complaint against a legislator would be banned from discussing, or even mentioning, the complaint publicly if a bill under debate in the state House becomes law. Here is the proposed language:

All investigations, inquiries, records, proceedings, and accompanying documents related to a complaint are confidential unless the respondent requests, in writing, to waive confidentiality or the ethics committee renders a public opinion. A person connected with a complaint before the ethics committee shall not disclose the existence of the complaint and any related information and proceedings nor discuss any related testimony or evidence except to persons directly involved, and then only to the extent as necessary for the proper disposition of the matter.

Perhaps the legislators need to take a look at the First Amendment or maybe Article II of the State Declaration of Rights:

The General Assembly shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government or any department thereof for a redress of grievances.

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