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Haley agrees to pay fine, forward 8 donations

  • Updated

COLUMBIA — South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley agreed to pay a $3,500 fine for not properly identifying all donors to her 2010 campaign, according to a consent order signed this week with the State Ethics Commission.

Haley also agreed to forward money from eight donors, totaling nearly $4,200, to the Children’s Trust Fund and reimburse the ethics agency $2,000 for its investigation.

The combined $9,677 will be paid from her 2014 campaign account, her senior adviser Tim Pearson confirmed Tuesday. Haley has not officially announced if she’ll seek a second term.

The order resolves a complaint filed in July 2011 by a state Democratic Party employee regarding campaign filings that did not show the addresses of 45 donors and the occupations of more than 2,300. Under the agreement, the commission issued a public warning to the Republican governor for not complying with the law.

State law requires campaigns to know the names and addresses of all donors before depositing their checks, and to report them as part of their online disclosures. Campaigns don’t have to post donors’ occupations online but must be able to produce them from their own records.

The commission’s investigation determined Haley’s campaign had addresses on file for all but eight donors. The address of only one donor who gave $200 could not be identified by last December. The campaign still does not know the occupation of several hundred donors.

Haley’s campaign “admits that her campaign unintentionally and inadvertently did not comply with the strict requirements” of state law, reads the order, signed Monday.

Commission Director Herb Hayden said Tuesday it marks the first time a governor has been cited for such violations.

The agency frequently gets complaints about incomplete donor information, though they usually involve a couple of omissions, he said.

“Normally, it’s not to the extent of this case, simply because of the amount of contributions. Most people don’t collect the contributions that you do in a governor’s race,” he said.

The order notes that the $4,177 from donors whose addresses weren’t known within the required seven days of receipt represents a fraction of 1 percent of the $3.2 million the campaign received over the three quarters questioned.

Even considering all 45 donations, it’s a small percentage, Hayden said.

Pearson, Haley’s 2010 campaign manager, said the campaign made its best effort to report all the required information from more than 7,000 donors.

“We were successful in the vast majority of cases and unsuccessful on eight,” said Pearson, who is also Haley’s former chief of staff. He said Haley’s team will continue working through the reporting process and make “significant and diligent efforts to complete the requirements of campaign reporting.”

The consent order comes in lieu of a public hearing.

State Democratic Party spokeswoman Kristin Sosanie noted Haley reimbursed the state about $9,600 last fall for improperly using state planes for what was considered political purposes. At the time, her spokesman told The Associated Press the office did not realize that a clause in the state budget barred the planes’ use for news conferences and bill signings.

“Governor Haley continues to prove that she is either unable or completely unwilling to play by the rules,” Sosanie said. “It’s time for Nikki Haley to stop thinking she gets to play by her own set of rules, and start living up to ethical standards.”

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