Fines grow for Mike Campbell

Mike Campbell

COLUMBIA -- The son of South Carolina political giant, ethics reformer and late Gov. Carroll Campbell owes the State Ethics Commission nearly $380,000 for failing to file campaign finance reports from his failed 2006 bid for lieutenant governor.

Mike Campbell said Wednesday he's been trying to take care of the late filings and is working with a Columbia lawyer to sort them out.

"I'm trying to get this thing cleared up," Campbell said. "The last thing I want is for anybody to believe is there's any kind of wrongdoing."

In September, the commission issued an order reprimanding Campbell and fining him $16,000 on top of a late filing penalty of $151,000. Through April 26 the Ethics Commission shows the tab had grown to $328,600.

Campbell's fines, tied to six reports he didn't file, increase by $700 a day. That has added more than $54,000 in penalties to Campbell's tally. Campbell ranks fifth on the commission's debtor list, which is led by a former Eastover council member's $768,400.

The commission can reduce the penalties if Campbell files a formal appeal, but he hasn't done so thus far. Nonetheless, Campbell is hoping for a break.

"They should treat it as it is and just a matter of some paperwork not being filed," Campbell said. "I believe they'll be very reasonable."

Campbell won the most votes in the 2006 primary but not enough to avoid a runoff that he lost by 4,025 votes.

Campbell had filed required reports throughout the campaign but stopped after the primary, said Cathy Hazelwood, the commission's general counsel. He filed two reports in 2008 that show he was not raising or spending money and had $30,164 remaining in his campaign account. But Campbell told an ethics investigator in 2010 that those reports were inaccurate.

Campbell has remained active politically. In 2008, Campbell was helping Mike Huckabee in his 2008 GOP presidential bid that put the former Arkansas governor in a surprising second-place finish in South Carolina's key contest.

This time, Campbell is backing former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman. He was with Huntsman Monday and Tuesday at campaign stops and as his mother and brother joined him in endorsing the former U.S. ambassador to China. Campbell said his campaign finance report filing shouldn't overshadow his Huntsman endorsement.

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