COLUMBIA — A legislative panel moved forward Tuesday on an allegation that a state lawmaker broke ethics laws when he used a state-owned plane to fly a conservative pundit to Columbia.
The House Ethics Committee’s decision means the panel found enough evidence that Rep. Bill Chumley might have committed the violation, The State newspaper reported .
In March, the Spartanburg Republican sponsored conservative commentator Walter Williams’ flight from the Washington area to push for a bill that initially sought to nullify the federal health care law. The state Aeronautics Commission says it would have charged a paying customer $6,400.
At the time, Democrats accused Chumley of using the state plane for political purposes. The lawmaker dismissed requests that he reimburse the state, calling Williams’ testimony official state business.
Rep. Kenny Bingham, chairman of the House Ethics Committee, said the panel was investigating a complaint by Woodruff resident Thomas A. Davies.
Chumley could request a hearing or let the Ethics Committee reach a decision on its own. The committee has no timetable on when it must decide what action, if any, to take, Bingham said.
Chumley told the newspaper Tuesday he was unaware of the panel’s decision and wouldn’t say if he would fight the charge. He also defended his decision, saying he followed state law.
“I feel like I did everything that I was supposed to do before I did it, and I think it was the right thing to do,” he said.