Ethics panel drops allegations against attorney general

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson

COLUMBIA — The State Ethics Commission has dismissed eight complaints made against Attorney General Alan Wilson relating to campaign contributions that exceed legal limits.

Wilson had been accused earlier this year of taking in donations that exceeded the $3,500 maximum allowed per election cycle.

Wilson’s attorney, Rep. James Smith, D-Columbia, asked the Ethics Commission to treat the complaints as technical violations. Smith argued that Wilson had quickly returned the money once the mistakes were found through an audit and had shown “extraordinary diligence” in complying with the law.

“There was no intentional wrongdoing or intent to violate any rules that he wasn’t supposed to do,” Smith said after the hearing. “These were inadvertent errors that were fixed before the complaint was filed.”

Wisconsin resident Krista Thom filed a total of 37 complaints with the State Ethics Commission after a Post and Courier review of Wilson’s campaign finance disclosure reports in 2014 found his campaign had accepted thousands in excess contributions.

All were dismissed because Thom failed to cooperate with investigators, which raised the suspicion that commissioners were being used as a “political tool,” said Michael Burschstead, the Ethics Commission’s attorney.

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But the commission chose to open its own complaints on eight of the allegations. They found, however, that because Wilson had already returned the money no further action was needed.

Reach Cynthia Roldan at 843-708-5891.

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