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S.C. ranks near bottom again

Posted: March 20, 2012 11:14 a.m.
Updated: March 21, 2012 5:00 a.m.

South Carolinians shouldn’t be surprised to see the state rank poorly in yet another survey. It seems the Palmetto State is forever being relegated to the bottom tier in all kinds of indicators. Some of them, of course, don’t have much validity. But the latest one, in which only five states are ranked lower than South Carolina in susceptibility to political corruption, is particularly unnerving because it’s one that could be avoided with a modicum of care from legislators.

The report was based on a lengthy investigation by the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity, a nonpartisan group based in Washington which takes a look at what is needed to have the best possible government. South Carolina rates poorly, say the report’s authors, because of government secrecy, weak ethics enforcement, poor financial disclosure by lawmakers and low accountability standards for both legislative and executive departments. The state fails in nine of 14 categories, with especially poor grades in public access to information and executive accountability. It’s ironic that the report was released as legislators are considering allowing law enforcement agencies to withhold more information on routine incident reports. Gov. Nikki Haley, as you might suspect, dismissed the study as inaccurate, again touting her administration’s great transparency -- a quality which few people have actually found to exist.

There are many studies which present data that are difficult to change quickly, such as poverty. But in this case, legislators could quickly rectify this situation by passing sweeping changes to make the government more accountable. Sadly, there are probably too few lawmakers in Columbia concerned with that to make much of an immediate difference.

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