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Rules of Conduct 

Section 8-13-700, etal. 


SECTION 8-13-700.   Use of official position or office for financial gain; disclosure of potential conflict of interest.

(A) No public official, public member, or public employee may knowingly use his official office, membership, or employment to obtain an economic interest for himself, a family member, an individual with whom he is associated, or a business with which he is associated. This prohibition does not extend to the incidental use of public materials, personnel, or equipment, subject to or available for a public official's, public member's, or public employee's use which does not result in additional public expense.

(B) No public official, public member, or public employee may make, participate in making, or in any way attempt to use his office, membership, or employment to influence a governmental decision in which he, a family member, an individual with whom he is associated, or a business with which he is associated has an economic interest. A public official, public member, or public employee who, in the discharge of his official responsibilities, is required to take an action or make a decision which affects an economic interest of himself, a member of his immediate family, an individual with whom he is associated, or a business with which he is associated shall:

(1) prepare a written statement describing the matter requiring action or decisions and the nature of his potential conflict of interest with respect to the action or decision;

(2) if the public official is a member of the General Assembly, he shall deliver a copy of the statement to the presiding officer of the appropriate house. The presiding officer shall have the statement printed in the appropriate journal and require that the member of the General Assembly he excused from votes, deliberations, and other action on the matter on which a potential conflict exists;

(3) if he is a public employee, he shall furnish a copy of the statement to his superior, if any, who shall assign the matter to another employee who does not have a potential conflict of interest. If he has no immediate superior, he shall take the action prescribed by the State Ethics Commission;

(4) if he is a public official, other than a member of the General Assembly, he shall furnish a copy of the statement to the presiding officer of the governing body of any agency, commission, board, or of any county, municipality, or a political subdivision thereof, on which he serves, who shall cause the statement to be printed in the minutes and require that the member be excused from any votes, deliberations, and other actions on the matter on which the potential conflict of interest exists and shall cause the disqualification and the reasons for it to be noted in the minutes;

(5) if he is a public member, he shall furnish a copy to the presiding officer of any agency, commission, board, or of any county, municipality, or a political subdivision thereof, on which he serves, who shall cause the statement to be printed in the minutes and shall require that the member be excused from any votes, deliberations, and other actions on the matter on which the potential conflict of interest exists and shall cause such disqualification and the reasons for it to be noted in the minutes.

(C) Where a public official, public member, or public employee or a member of his immediate family holds an economic interest in a blind trust, he is not considered to have a conflict of interest with regard to matters pertaining to that economic interest, if the existence of the blind trust has been disclosed to the appropriate supervisory office.

(D) The provisions of this section do not apply to any court in the unified judicial system.

(E) When a member of the General Assembly is required by law to appear because of his business interest as an owner or officer of the business or in his official capacity as a member of the General Assembly, this section does not apply.

  

SECTION 8-13-705.   Offering, giving, soliciting, or receiving anything of value to influence action of public employee, member or official, or to influence testimony of witness; exceptions; penalty for violation.

(A) A person may not, directly or indirectly, give, offer, or promise anything of value to a public official, public member, or public employee with the intent to:

(1) influence the discharge of a public official's, public member's, or public employee's official responsibilities;

(2) influence a public official, public member, or public employee to commit, aid in committing, collude in, or allow fraud on a governmental entity; or

(3) induce a public official, public member, or public employee to perform or fail to perform an act in violation of the public official's, public member's, or public employee's official responsibilities.

(B) A public official, public member, or public employee may not, directly or indirectly, knowingly ask, demand, exact, solicit, seek, accept, assign, receive, or agree to receive anything of value for himself or for another person in return for being:

(1) influenced in the discharge of his official responsibilities;

(2) influenced to commit, aid in committing, collude in, allow fraud, or make an opportunity for the commission of fraud on a governmental entity; or

(3) induced to perform or fail to perform an act in violation of his official responsibilities.

(C) A person may not, directly or indirectly, give, offer, or promise to give anything of value to another person with intent to influence testimony under oath or affirmation in a trial or other proceeding before:

(1) a court;

(2) a committee of either house or both houses of the General Assembly; or

(3) an agency, commission, or officer authorized to hear evidence or take testimony or with intent to influence a witness to fail to appear.

(D) A person may not, directly or indirectly, ask, demand, exact, solicit, seek, accept, assign, receive, or agree to receive anything of value in return for influencing testimony under oath or affirmation in a trial or other proceeding before:

(1) a court;

(2) a committee of either house or both houses of the General Assembly; or

(3) an agency, commission, or officer authorized to hear evidence or take testimony, or with intent to influence a witness to fail to appear.

(E) Subsections (C) and (D) of this section do not prohibit the payment or receipt of witness fees provided by law or the payment by the party on whose behalf a witness is called and receipt by a witness of the reasonable costs of travel and subsistence at trial, hearing, or proceeding, or, in the case of an expert witness, of the reasonable fee for time spent in the preparation of the opinion and in appearing or testifying.

(F) A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be punished by imprisonment for not more than ten years and a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars and is permanently disqualified from being a public official or a public member. A public official, public member, or public employee who violates the provisions of this section forfeits his public office, membership, or employment.

(G) This section does not apply to political contributions unless the contributions are conditioned upon the performance of specific actions of the person accepting the contributions nor does it prohibit a parent, grandparent, or other close relative from making a gift to a child, grandchild, or other close relative for love and affection except as otherwise provided.

  

SECTION 8-13-710.   Reporting of particular gifts received by public employee, official, or member on statement of economic interests.

(A) Unless provided by subsection (B) and in addition to the requirements of Chapter 17 of Title 2, a public official or public employee required to file a statement of economic interests under Section 8-13-1110 who accepts anything of value from a lobbyist's principal must report the value of anything received on his statement of economic interests pursuant to Section 8-13-1120(A)(9).

(B) A public official, public member, or public employee required to file a statement of economic interests under Section 8-13-1110 who receives, accepts, or takes, directly or indirectly, from a person, anything of value worth twenty-five dollars or more in a day and anything of value worth two hundred dollars or more in the aggregate in a calendar year must report on his statement of economic interests pursuant to Section 8-13-1120 the thing of value from:

(1) a person, if there is reason to believe the donor would not give the thing of value but for the public official's public member's, or public employee's office or position;

(2) a person, or from an officer or director of a person, if the public official, public member, or public employee has reason to believe the person:

(a) has or is seeking to obtain contractual or other business or financial relationships with the public official's, public member's, or public employee's governmental entity;

(b) conducts operations or activities which are regulated by the public official's, public member's, or public employee's governmental entity.

(C) Nothing in this section requires a public official, public member, or public employee to report a gift from a parent, grandparent, or relative to a child, grandchild, or other immediate family member for love and affection.

  

SECTION 8-13-715.   Speaking engagements of public officials, members or employees; only expense reimbursement permitted; authorization for reimbursement of out-of-state expenses.

A public official, public member, or public employee acting in an official capacity may not receive anything of value for speaking before a public or private group. A public official, public member, or public employee is not prohibited by this section from accepting a meal provided in conjunction with a speaking engagement where all participants are entitled to the same meal and the meal is incidental to the speaking engagement. Notwithstanding the limitations of Section 2-17-90, a public official, public member, or public employee may receive payment or reimbursement for actual expenses incurred for a speaking engagement. The expenses must be reasonable and must be incurred in a reasonable time and manner in which to accomplish the purpose of the engagement. A public official, public member, or public employee required to file a statement of economic interests under Section 8-13-1110 must report on his statement of economic interests the organization which paid for or reimbursed actual expenses, the amount of such payment or reimbursement, and the purpose, date, and location of the speaking engagement. A public official, public member, or public employee who is not required to file a statement of economic interests but who is paid or reimbursed actual expenses for a speaking engagement must report this same information in writing to the chief administrative official or employee of the agency with which the public official, public member, or public employee is associated.

If the expenses are incurred out of state, the public official, public member, or public employee incurring the expenses must receive prior written approval for the payment or reimbursement from:

(1) the Governor, in the case of a public official of a state agency who is not listed in an item in this section;

(2) a statewide constitutional officer, in the case of himself;

(3) the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, in the case of a member of the Senate;

(4) the Speaker of the House, in the case of a member of the House of Representatives; or

(5) the chief executive of the governmental entity in all other cases.

  

SECTION 8-13-720.   Offering, soliciting, or receiving money for advice or assistance of public official, member or employee.

No person may offer or pay to a public official, public member, or public employee and no public official, public member, or public employee may solicit or receive money in addition to that received by the public official, public member, or public employee in his official capacity for advice or assistance given in the course of his employment as a public official, public member, or public employee.

  

SECTION 8-13-725.   Use or disclosure of confidential information by public official, member, or employee for financial gain; examination of private records; penalties.

(A) A public official, public member, or public employee may not use or disclose confidential information gained in the course of or by reason of his official responsibilities in a way that would affect an economic interest held by him, a member of his immediate family, an individual with whom he is associated, or a business with which he is associated.

(B)(1) A public official, public member, or public employee may not wilfully examine, or aid and abet in the wilful examination of, a tax return of a taxpayer, a worker's compensation record, a record in connection with health or medical treatment, social services records, or other records of an individual in the possession of or within the access of a public department or agency if the purpose of the examination is improper or unlawful.

(2) A person convicted of violating this subsection must be fined not more than five thousand dollars, or imprisoned not more than five years, or both, and shall reimburse the costs of prosecution. Upon conviction, the person also must be discharged immediately from his public capacity as an official, member, or employee.

    

SECTION 8-13-730.   Membership on or employment by regulatory agency of person associated with regulated business.

Unless otherwise provided by law, no person may serve as a member of a governmental regulatory agency that regulates any business with which that person is associated. An employee of the regulatory agency which regulates a business with which he is associated annually shall file a statement of economic interests notwithstanding the provisions of Section 8-13-1110. No person may be an employee of the regulatory agency which regulates a business with which he is associated if this relationship creates a continuing or frequent conflict with the performance of his official responsibilities.

    

SECTION 8-13-735.   Participation in decision affecting personal economic interests by one employed by and serving on governing body of governmental entity.

(A) Except as provided in subsection (B), no person who serves at the same time:

(1) on the governing body of a state, county, municipal, or political subdivision board or commission; and

(2) as an employee of the same board or commission or in a position subject to the control of that board or commission may make or participate in making a decision that affects his economic interests.

(B) No person shall serve at the same time as:

(1) a nonappointed member of the governing body of the board or commission for a water or sewer district or a nonprofit water or sewer corporation or company organized pursuant to the provisions of state law; and

(2)(a) an employee of the same board, commission, corporation, or company; or

(b) in a position subject to the control of that board, commission, corporation, or company; or

(c) in a decision-making position concerning the operation and functions of that board, commission, corporation, or company.

(C)(1) Any person violating the provisions of subsection (B) may be assessed a civil penalty of fifty dollars per day to be remitted to the general fund of the board, commission, corporation, or company.

(2) If a lawsuit is brought to force the person to vacate either his position held pursuant to subsection (B)(1) or subsection (B)(2), and the person is found in circuit court to have violated subsection (B), the person must pay the civil penalty in subsection (C)(1) plus court costs, attorney's fees, and any damages required by the court.

(3) Any individual or entity served by the board, commission, corporation, or company has standing to bring a lawsuit in the circuit court pursuant to this subsection.

    

SECTION 8-13-740. Representation of another by a public official, member, or employee before a governmental entity.

(A)(1) A public official occupying statewide office, a member of his immediate family, an individual with whom he is associated, or a business with which he is associated may not knowingly represent another person before a governmental entity, except as otherwise required by law.

(2) A member of the General Assembly, an individual with whom he is associated, or a business with which he is associated may not knowingly represent another person before a governmental entity, except:

(a) as required by law;

(b) before a court under the unified judicial system; or

(c) in a contested case, as defined in Section 1-23-310, excluding a contested case for a rate or price fixing matter before the South Carolina Public Service Commission or South Carolina Department of Insurance, or in an agency's consideration of the drafting and promulgation of regulations under Chapter 23 of Title 1 in a public hearing.

(3) A public member occupying statewide office, an individual with whom he is associated, or a business with which he is associated may not knowingly represent another person before the same unit or division of the governmental entity for which the public member has official responsibility, except as otherwise required by law.

(4)    A public official, public member, or public employee of a county may not knowingly represent a person before an agency, unit, or subunit of that county for which the public official, public member, or public employee has official responsibility except:

(a)    as required by law; or

(b)    before a court under the unified judicial system.

(5)    A public official, public member, or public employee of a municipality may not knowingly represent a person before any agency, unit, or subunit of that municipality for which the public official, public member, or public employee has official responsibility except as required by law.

(6) A public employee, other than those specified in items (4) and (5) of this subsection, receiving compensation other than reimbursement or per diem payments for his official duties, an individual with whom he is associated, or a business with which he is associated may not knowingly represent a person before an entity on the same level of government for which the public official, public member, or public employee has official responsibility except:

(a) as required by law;

(b) before a court under the unified judicial system; or

(c) in a contested case, as defined in Section 1-23-310, excluding a contested case for a rate or price fixing matter before the South Carolina Public Service Commission or the South Carolina Department of Insurance, or in an agency's consideration of the drafting and promulgation of regulations under Chapter 23 of Title 1 in a public hearing.

(7) The restrictions set forth in items (1) through (6) of this subsection do not apply to:

(a) purely ministerial matters which do not require discretion on the part of the governmental entity before which the public official, public member, or public employee is appearing;

(b) representation by a public official, public member, or public employee in the course of the public official's, public member's, or public employee's official duties;

(c) representation by the public official, public member, or public employee in matters relating to the public official's, public member's or public employee's personal affairs or the personal affairs of the public official's, public member's, or public employee's immediate family.

(8)    A state, county, or municipal public official, public member, or public employee, including a person serving on an agency, unit, or subunit of a governmental entity shall not be required to resign or otherwise vacate his seat or position due to a conflict of interest that arises under this section as long as notice of the possible conflict of interest is given and he complies with the recusal requirements of Section 8-13-700(B). A governmental entity includes, but is not limited to, a planning board or zoning commission.

(9)    Notwithstanding another provision of law, a governmental entity shall not prohibit a state, county, or municipal public official, public member, or public employee, including a person serving on an agency, unit, or subunit of a governmental entity from service in office or employment based solely on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or occupation.

(B) A member of the General Assembly, when he, an individual with whom he is associated, or a business with which he is associated represents a client for compensation as permitted by subsection (A)(2)(c), must file within his annual statement of economic interests a listing of fees earned, services rendered, names of persons represented, and the nature of contacts made with the governmental entities.

(C) A member of the General Assembly may not vote on the section of that year's general appropriation bill relating to a particular agency or commission if the member, an individual with whom he is associated, or a business with which he is associated has represented any client before that agency or commission as permitted by subsection (A)(2)(c) within one year prior to such vote. This subsection does not prohibit a member from voting on other sections of the general appropriation bill or from voting on the general appropriation bill as a whole.

     

SECTION 8-13-745.   Paid representation of clients and contracting by member of General Assembly or associate in particular situations.

(A) No member of the General Assembly or an individual with whom he is associated or business with which he is associated may represent a client for a fee in a contested case, as defined in Section 1-23-310, before an agency, a commission, board, department, or other entity if the member of the General Assembly has voted in the election, appointment, recommendation, or confirmation of a member of the governing body of the agency, board, department, or other entity within the twelve preceding months.

(B) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, after the effective date of this section, no member of the General Assembly or any individual with whom he is associated or business with which he is associated may represent a client for a fee in a contested case, as defined in Section 1-23-310, before an agency, a commission, board, department, or other entity elected, appointed, recommended, or confirmed by the House, the Senate, or the General Assembly if that member has voted on the section of that year's general appropriation bill or supplemental appropriation bill relating to that agency, commission, board, department, or other entity within one year from the date of the vote. This subsection does not prohibit a member from voting on other sections of the general appropriation bill or from voting on the general appropriation bill as a whole.

(C) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, after the effective date of this section, no member of the General Assembly or an individual with whom he is associated in partnership or a business, company, corporation, or partnership where his interest is greater than five percent may enter into any contract for goods or services with an agency, a commission, board, department, or other entity funded with general funds or other funds if the member has voted on the section of that year's appropriation bill relating to that agency, commission, board, department, or other entity within one year from the date of the vote. This subsection does not prohibit a member from voting on other sections of the appropriation bill or from voting on the general appropriation bill as a whole.

(D) The provisions of this section do not apply to any court in the unified judicial system.

(E) When a member of the General Assembly is required by law to appear because of his business interest as an owner or officer of the business or in his official capacity as a member of the General Assembly, this section does not apply.

(F) The provisions of subsections (A), (B), and (C) do not apply in the case of any vote or action taken by a member of the General Assembly prior to January 1, 1992.

     

SECTION 8-13-750.   Employment, promotion, advancement, or discipline of family member of public official, member, or employee.

(A) No public official, public member, or public employee may cause the employment, appointment, promotion, transfer, or advancement of a family member to a state or local office or position in which the public official, public member, or public employee supervises or manages.

(B) A public official, public member, or public employee may not participate in an action relating to the discipline of the public official's, public member's, or public employee's family member.

      

SECTION 8-13-755.   Restrictions on former public official, member, or employee serving as lobbyist or accepting employment in field of former service.

A former public official, former public member, or former public employee holding public office, membership, or employment on or after January 1, 1992, may not for a period of one year after terminating his public service or employment:

(1) serve as a lobbyist or represent clients before the agency or department on which he formerly served in a matter which he directly and substantially participated during his public service or employment; or

(2) accept employment if the employment:

(a) is from a person who is regulated by the agency or department on which the former public official, former public member, or former public employee served or was employed; and

(b) involves a matter in which the former public official, former public member, or former public employee directly and substantially participated during his public service or public employment.

      

SECTION 8-13-760.   Employment by government contractor of former public official, member, or employee who was engaged in procurement.

Except as is permitted by regulations of the State Ethics Commission, it is a breach of ethical standards for a public official, public member, or public employee who is participating directly in procurement, as defined in Section 11-35-310(22), to resign and accept employment with a person contracting with the governmental body if the contract falls or would fall under the public official's, public member's, or public employee's official responsibilities.

      

SECTION 8-13-765.   Use of government personnel or facilities for campaign purposes; government personnel permitted to work on campaigns on own time.

(A) No person may use government personnel, equipment, materials, or an office building in an election campaign. The provisions of this subsection do not apply to a public official's use of an official residence.

(B) A government, however, may rent or provide public facilities for political meetings and other campaign-related purposes if they are available on similar terms to all candidates and committees, as defined in Section 8-13-1300(6).

(C) This section does not prohibit government personnel, where not otherwise prohibited, from participating in election campaigns on their own time and on nongovernment premises.

     

SECTION 8-13-770.   Members of General Assembly prohibited from serving on state boards and commissions; exceptions.

A member of the General Assembly may not serve in any capacity as a member of a state board or commission, except for the State Budget and Control Board, the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, the Legislative Audit Council, the Legislative Council, the Legislative Information Systems, the Judicial Council, the Commission on Prosecution Coordination, the South Carolina Tobacco Community Development Board, the Tobacco Settlement Revenue Management Authority, the South Carolina Transportation Infrastructure Bank, the Commission on Indigent Defense, and the joint legislative committees.

     

SECTION 8-13-775.   Public official, member, or employee with official function related to contracts not permitted to have economic interest in contracts.

A public official, public member, or public employee may not have an economic interest in a contract with the State or its political subdivisions if the public official, public member, or public employee is authorized to perform an official function relating to the contract. Official function means writing or preparing the contract specifications, acceptance of bids, award of the contract, or other action on the preparation or award of the contract. This section is not intended to infringe on or prohibit public employment contracts with this State or a political subdivision of this State nor does it prohibit the award of contracts awarded through a process of public notice and competitive bids if the public official, public member, or public employee has not performed an official function regarding the contract.

     

SECTION 8-13-780.   Remedies for breaches of ethical standards by public officials, members, or employees.

(A) The provisions of this section are in addition to all other civil and administrative remedies against public officials, public members, or public employees which are provided by law.

(B) In addition to existing remedies for breach of the ethical standards of this chapter or regulations promulgated hereunder, the State Ethics Commission may impose an oral or written warning or reprimand.

(C) The value of anything received by a public official, public member, or public employee in breach of the ethical standards of this chapter or regulations promulgated hereunder is recoverable by the State or other governmental entity in an action by the Attorney General against a person benefitting from the violations.

(D) Before a public employee's employment or a public official's or public member's association with the governmental entity is terminated for a violation of the provisions of this chapter, notice and an opportunity for a hearing must be provided to the public official, public member, or public employee.

      

SECTION 8-13-785.   Communication by elected official with state board or commission on behalf of constituent.

Nothing in Chapter 13 of Title 8 prevents an elected official from communicating with a board or commission member or employee, on behalf of a constituent relating to delays in obtaining a hearing, discourteous treatment, scheduling, or other matters not affecting the outcome of pending matters, provided that the elected official, an individual with whom the elected official is associated, or a business with which the elected official is associated is not representing the constituent for compensation.

     

SECTION 8-13-790. Recovery of amounts received by official or employee in breach of ethical standards; recovery of kickbacks.

(A) The value of anything transferred or received in breach of the ethical standards of Articles 1 through 11 of this chapter or regulations promulgated under it by a public employee, public official, or a nonpublic employee or official may be recovered from the public employee, public official, or nonpublic employee or official.

(B) Upon a showing that a subcontractor made a kickback to a prime contractor or a higher tier subcontractor in connection with the award of a subcontract or order under it, it is conclusively presumed that the amount of the kickback was included in the price of the subcontract or order and ultimately borne by the State or governmental entity and is recoverable hereunder from the subcontractor making the kickback. Recovery from one offending party does not preclude recovery from other offending parties.

     

SECTION 8-13-795. Receipt of award, grant, or scholarship by public official or family member.

Nothing in Chapter 13 of Title 8 prevents a public official or a member of his immediate family from being awarded an award, a grant, or scholarship, or negatively reflects on a public official because of an award, a grant, or scholarship awarded to the public official or to a member of his immediate family on a competitive, objective basis if the public official has not wilfully contacted any person involved in the selection of the recipient, on behalf of the recipient, before the award.

FORMS AND REPORTS BY CANDIDATES FOR ELECTION BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
SECTION 8-13-910. Candidates elected or consented to by General Assembly to file statements of economic interests; authority with whom to file.

(A) No person who is a candidate for public office which is filled by election by the General Assembly may be voted upon by the General Assembly until at least ten days following the date on which the candidate files a statement of economic interests as defined in this chapter with the Chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee and the Chairman of the House of Representatives Ethics Committee.

(B) No person who is appointed to an office which is filled with the advice and consent of the Senate or the General Assembly may be confirmed unless the appointment, when received by the Senate and/or the House, is accompanied by a current original copy of a statement of economic interests which has been filed with the appointing authority and is transmitted with the appointment and until at least ten days following the date on which the appointment, with the attached original economic interest statement, has been received by the Senate and/or the House.

SECTION 8-13-920. Report of campaign expenditures.

A person running for an office elected by the General Assembly must file a report with the Chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee and the Chairman of the House of Representatives Ethics Committee of money in excess of one hundred dollars spent by him or in his behalf in seeking the office. The report must include the period beginning with the time he first announces his intent to seek the office. The report must not include travel expenses or room and board while campaigning. Contributions made to members of the General Assembly during the period from announcement of intent to election date must be included. The report must be updated quarterly with an additional report filed five days before the election and the final report filed thirty days after the election. Persons soliciting votes on behalf of candidates must submit expenses in excess of one hundred dollars to the candidate which must be included on the candidate's report. A copy of all reports received by the Senate Ethics Committee and the House of Representatives Ethics Committee must be forwarded to the State Ethics Commission within two business days of receipt.

SECTION 8-13-930. Seeking or offering pledges of votes for candidates.

No candidate for an office elected by the General Assembly may seek directly the pledge of a member of the General Assembly's vote until the qualifications of all candidates for that office have been determined by the appropriate joint committee to review candidates for that office. No member of the General Assembly may offer a pledge until the qualifications of all candidates for that office have been determined by the appropriate joint committee to review candidates for that office.

SECTION 8-13-935. Public Service Commission election requirements; violations and penalties.

(A) No candidate for or person intending to become a candidate for the Public Service Commission may seek, directly or indirectly, the pledge of a member of the General Assembly's vote or contact, directly or indirectly, a member of the General Assembly regarding screening for the Public Service Commission, until: (1) the qualifications of all candidates for that office have been determined by the State Regulation of Public Utilities Review Committee, and (2) the review committee has formally released its report as to the qualifications of all candidates for the office to the General Assembly. For purposes of this section, "indirectly seeking a pledge" means the candidate, or someone acting on behalf of and at the request of the candidate, requests a person to contact a member of the General Assembly on behalf of the candidate before nominations are formally made by the review committee. The prohibitions of this section do not extend to an announcement of candidacy by the candidate or statement by the candidate detailing the candidate's qualifications.

(B) No member of the General Assembly may offer his pledge until: (1) the qualifications of all candidates for the Public Service Commission have been determined by the State Regulation of Public Utilities Review Committee, and (2) the review committee has formally released its report as to the qualifications of its nominees to the General Assembly. The formal release of the report of qualifications must occur no earlier than forty-eight hours after the names of nominees have been initially released to members of the General Assembly.

(C) No member of the General Assembly may trade anything of value, including pledges to vote for legislation or for other candidates, in exchange for another member's pledge to vote for a candidate for the Public Service Commission.

(D)(1) Violations of this section may be considered by the State Regulation of Public Utilities Review Committee when it considers the candidate's qualifications.

(2) Violations of this section by members of the General Assembly must be reported by the review committee to the House or Senate Ethics Committee, as may be applicable.

(3) Violations of this section by incumbent commissioners seeking reelection must be reported by the Public Service Commission to the State Ethics Commission.

A violation of this section is a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, the violator must be fined not more than one thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than ninety days. Cases tried under this section may not be transferred from general sessions court pursuant to Section 22-3-545.

      

SECTION 8-13-100.   Definitions.

(1)(a) "Anything of value" or "thing of value" means:

(i) a pecuniary item, including money, a bank bill, or a bank note;

(ii) a promissory note, bill of exchange, an order, a draft, warrant, check, or bond given for the payment of money;

(iii) a contract, agreement, promise, or other obligation for an advance, a conveyance, forgiveness of indebtedness, deposit, distribution, loan, payment, gift, pledge, or transfer of money;

(iv) a stock, bond, note, or other investment interest in an entity;

(v) a receipt given for the payment of money or other property;

(vi) a chose-in-action;

(vii) a gift, tangible good, chattel, or an interest in a gift, tangible good, or chattel;

(viii) a loan or forgiveness of indebtedness;

(ix) a work of art, an antique, or a collectible;

(x) an automobile or other means of personal transportation;

(xi) real property or an interest in real property, including title to realty, a fee simple or partial interest in realty including present, future, contingent, or vested interests in realty, a leasehold interest, or other beneficial interest in realty;

(xii) an honorarium or compensation for services;

(xiii) a promise or offer of employment;

(xiv) any other item that is of pecuniary or compensatory worth to a person.

(b) "Anything of value" or "thing of value" does not mean:

(i) printed informational or promotional material, not to exceed ten dollars in monetary value;

(ii) items of nominal value, not to exceed ten dollars, containing or displaying promotional material;

(iii) a personalized plaque or trophy with a value that does not exceed one hundred fifty dollars;

(iv) educational material of a nominal value directly related to the public official's, public member's, or public employee's official responsibilities;

(v) an honorary degree bestowed upon a public official, public member, or public employee by a public or private university or college;

(vi) promotional or marketing items offered to the general public on the same terms and conditions without regard to status as a public official or public employee; or

(vii) a campaign contribution properly received and reported under the provisions of this chapter.

(2) "Appropriate supervisory office" means:

(a) the State Ethics Commission for all persons required to file reports under this chapter except for those members of or candidates for the office of State Senator or State Representative;

(b) the Senate Ethics Committee for members of or candidates for the office of State Senator and the House of Representatives Ethics Committee for members of or candidates for the office of State Representative.

(3) "Business" means a corporation, partnership, proprietorship, firm, an enterprise, a franchise, an association, organization, or a self-employed individual.

(4) "Business with which he is associated" means a business of which the person or a member of his immediate family is a director, an officer, owner, employee, a compensated agent, or holder of stock worth one hundred thousand dollars or more at fair market value and which constitutes five percent or more of the total outstanding stock of any class.

(5) "Candidate" means a person who seeks appointment, nomination for election, or election to a state or local office, or authorizes or knowingly permits the collection or disbursement of money for the promotion of his candidacy or election. It also means a person on whose behalf write-in votes are solicited if the person has knowledge of such solicitation. 'Candidate' does not include a person within the meaning of Section 431(b) of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1976.

(6) "Compensation" means money, anything of value, an in-kind contribution or expenditure, or economic benefit conferred on or received by a person.

(7) "Confidential information" means information, whether transmitted orally or in writing, which is obtained by reason of the public position or office held and is of such nature that it is not, at the time of transmission, a matter of public record or public knowledge.

(8) "Consultant" means a person, other than a public official, public member, or public employee who contracts with the State, county, municipality, or a political subdivision thereof to:

(a) evaluate bids for public contracts, or

(b) award public contracts.

(9) "Contribution" means a gift, subscription, loan, guarantee upon which collection is made, forgiveness of a loan, an advance, in-kind contribution or expenditure, a deposit of money or anything of value made to a candidate or committee, as defined in Section 8-13-1300(6), for the purpose of influencing an election; or payment or compensation for the personal service of another person which is rendered for any purpose to a candidate or committee without charge. "Contribution" does not include volunteer personal services on behalf of a candidate or committee for which the volunteer receives no compensation from any source.

(10) "Corporation" means an entity organized in the corporate form under federal law or the laws of any state.

(11)(a) "Economic interest" means an interest distinct from that of the general public in a purchase, sale, lease, contract, option, or other transaction or arrangement involving property or services in which a public official, public member, or public employee may gain an economic benefit of fifty dollars or more.

(b) This definition does not prohibit a public official, public member, or public employee from participating in, voting on, or influencing or attempting to influence an official decision if the only economic interest or reasonably foreseeable benefit that may accrue to the public official, public member, or public employee is incidental to the public official's, public member's, or public employee's position or which accrues to the public official, public member, or public employee as a member of a profession, occupation, or large class to no greater extent than the economic interest or potential benefit could reasonably be foreseen to accrue to all other members of the profession, occupation, or large class.

(12) "Election" means:

(a) a general, special, primary, or runoff election;

(b) a convention or caucus of a political party held to nominate a candidate; or

(c) the election of delegates to a constitutional convention for proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States or the Constitution of this State.

(13) "Elective office" means an office at the state, county, municipal, or political subdivision level. For the purposes of Articles 1 through 11, the term "elective office" does not include an office under the unified judicial system except that for purposes of campaign practices, campaign disclosure, and disclosure of economic interests, "elective office" includes the office of probate judge.

(14) "Expenditure" means a purchase, payment, loan, forgiveness of a loan, an advance, in-kind contribution or expenditure, a deposit, transfer of funds, a gift of money, or anything of value for any purpose.

(15) "Family member" means an individual who is:

(a) the spouse, parent, brother, sister, child, mother-in-law, father-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, grandparent, or grandchild;

(b) a member of the individual's immediate family.

(16) "Gift" means anything of value, including entertainment, food, beverage, travel, and lodging given or paid to a public official, public member, or public employee to the extent that consideration of equal or greater value is not received. A gift includes a rebate or discount on the price of anything of value unless it is made in the ordinary course of business without regard to that person's status. A gift does not include campaign contributions accepted pursuant to this chapter.

(17) "Governmental entity" means the State, a county, municipality, or political subdivision thereof with which a public official, public member, or public employee is associated or employed. "Governmental entity" also means any charitable organization or foundation, but not an athletic organization or athletic foundation which is associated with a state educational institution and which is organized to raise funds for the academic, educational, research, or building programs of a college or university.

(18) "Immediate family" means:

(a) a child residing in a candidate's, public official's, public member's, or public employee's household;

(b) a spouse of a candidate, public official, public member, or public employee; or

(c) an individual claimed by the candidate, public official, public member, or public employee or the candidate's, public official's, public member's, or public employee's spouse as a dependent for income tax purposes.

(19) "Income" means the receipt or promise of any consideration, whether or not legally enforceable.

(20) "Individual" means one human being.

(21) "Individual with whom he is associated" means an individual with whom the person or a member of his immediate family mutually has an interest in any business of which the person or a member of his immediate family is a director, officer, owner, employee, compensated agent, or holder of stock worth one hundred thousand dollars or more at fair market value and which constitutes five percent or more of the total outstanding stock of any class.

(22) "Loan" means a transfer of money, property, guarantee, or anything of value in exchange for an obligation, conditional or not, to repay in whole or in part.

(23) "Official responsibility" means the direct administrative or operating authority, whether intermediate or final and whether exercisable personally or through subordinates, to approve, disapprove, or otherwise direct government action.

(24) "Person" means an individual, a proprietorship, firm, partnership, joint venture, joint stock company, syndicate, business trust, an estate, a company, committee, an association, a corporation, club, labor organization, or any other organization or group of persons acting in concert.

(25) "Public employee" means a person employed by the State, a county, a municipality, or a political subdivision thereof.

(26) "Public member" means an individual appointed to a noncompensated part-time position on a board, commission, or council. A public member does not lose this status by receiving reimbursement of expenses or a per diem payment for services.

(27) "Public official" means an elected or appointed official of the State, a county, a municipality, or a political subdivision thereof, including candidates for the office. "Public official" does not mean a member of the judiciary except that for the purposes of campaign practices, campaign disclosure, and disclosure of economic interests, a probate judge is considered a public official and must meet the requirements of this chapter.

(28) "Represent" or "representation" means making an appearance, whether gratuitous or for compensation, before a state agency, office, department, division, bureau, board, commission, or council, including the General Assembly, or before a local or regional government office, department, division, bureau, board, or commission.

(29) "Substantial monetary value" means a monetary value of five hundred dollars or more.

(30) "Official capacity" means activities which:

(a) arise because of the position held by the public official, public member, or public employee;

(b) involve matters which fall within the official responsibility of the agency, the public official, the public member, or the public employee; and

(c) are services the agency would normally provide and for which the public official, public member, or public employee would be subject to expense reimbursement by the agency with which the public official, public member, or public employee is associated.

(31) "State board, commission, or council" means an agency created by legislation which has statewide jurisdiction and which exercises some of the sovereign power of the State.

       

PENALTIES
   
SECTION 8-13-1510. Penalty for late filing of or failure to file report or statement required by this chapter.

(A) Except as otherwise specifically provided in this chapter, a person required to file a report or statement under this chapter who files a late statement or report or fails to file a required statement or report must be assessed a civil penalty as follows:

(1) a fine of one hundred dollars if the statement or report is not filed within five days after the established deadline provided by law in this chapter; and

(2) after notice has been given by certified or registered mail that a required statement or report has not been filed, a fine of ten dollars per calendar day for the first ten days after notice has been given, and one hundred dollars for each additional calendar day in which the required statement or report is not filed, not exceeding five thousand dollars.

(B) After the maximum civil penalty has been levied and the required statement or report has not been filed, the person is:

(1) for a first offense, guilty of a misdemeanor triable in magistrates court and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than thirty days;

(2) for a second offense, guilty of a misdemeanor triable in magistrates court and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than two thousand five hundred dollars nor more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned not less than a mandatory minimum of thirty days;

(3) for a third or subsequent offense, guilty of a misdemeanor triable in magistrates court and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.

      

SECTION 8-13-1520. Violation of chapter constitutes misdemeanor; violation not necessarily ethical infraction.

(A) Except as otherwise specifically provided in this chapter, a person who violates any provision of this chapter is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.

(B) A person who violates any provision of this Article 13 is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five hundred percent of the amount of contributions or anything of value that should have been reported pursuant to the provisions of this Article 13 but not less than five thousand dollars or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.

(C) A violation of the provisions of this chapter does not necessarily subject a public official to the provisions of Section 8-13-560.