Richland 2 chair owes $41,000 in ethics fines

BLYTHEWOOD – Amelia McKie, chair of the Richland 2 Board of Education, owes at least $41,000 in fines to the S.C. Ethics Commission, according to agency documents obtained by The Voice.

McKie

McKie has until Dec. 31 to pay the first $20,000. The remaining $21,000 is due June 30, 2019, documents state.

The fines are spelled out in an order the ethics commission issued July 3.
According to an eight-count complaint the commission filed, McKie failed to file quarterly campaign disclosure reports on seven occasions in 2015 and 2016 for the 2014 election.

The eighth count says McKie failed to disclose expenditures on a campaign report, documents show.

As of Thursday, the forms still had not been filed. The most recent quarterly report appearing on the ethics commission’s online database is dated Jan. 10, 2015.

Campaign disclosure reports for the 2018 election also don’t appear on the ethics commission’s website.

If the fines aren’t paid, McKie faces a judgment of $51,750, the order states.

Attempts to reach McKie by phone and email were unsuccessful.

More ethics forms remain unfiled

McKie’s $41,000 fine is in addition to any additional fines or penalties she may face for failing to file Statements of Economic Interest forms with the ethics commission.

On Dec. 4, McKie filed her 2018 economic interest forms, hours after The Voice telephoned her about the forms not being filed, according to the ethics commission website and an agency spokeswoman.

The forms were due March 30, according to state law.

In a telephone interview Tuesday, McKie told The Voice that she had filed her 2018 form “weeks ago.”

“I’ll try to find out where the disconnect was,” McKie said. “There here shouldn’t have been a problem. Certainly I want to get to the bottom of whatever the disconnect is.”

The ethics commission stood by its assertion that the form was filed Friday, Dec. 4, not weeks ago.

“The statements were filed on the date and time shown on the website,” the agency said via email. “I am aware of no glitch in the application that would cause a document to become ‘lost’ in the system.”

In addition to 2018, McKie also didn’t file economic interest forms for 2015-2017 until Dec. 4, 2018.

McKie filed her 2014 form on Aug. 15, 2014, the ethics commission online database shows.

The ethics commission spokesperson declined to comment about the potential for additional fines relating to McKie’s economic interest forms, but reiterated that the online database is correct.

“Everything on the website is accurate but may not contain the latest information,” the spokesperson said.
According to state law, a $100 civil penalty is levied to candidates failing to file on time following a five-day grace period. Penalties increase to $10 per calendar day starting 10 days after the commission provides notice by certified or registered mail.

Daily fines increase to $100 for every day the form isn’t filed, with total fines capping at $5,000. Criminal penalties kick in if forms still aren’t filed.

The ethics commission website also lists McKie on the agency’s debtor’s list, a list consisting of public officials with unpaid fines and civil penalties.

As of Dec. 6, the list said McKie owes $233.30 stemming from an unspecified 2016 debt. It’s unclear whether or not that debt is associated with the $41,000 judgment.

The ethics commission said it couldn’t respond to The Voice’s inquiries about McKie’s inclusion on the debtor’s list.

Why McKie owes $41,000

McKie’s $41,000 fine includes a “reduced late-filing penalty” of $24,245, a $16,000 civil penalty and a $575 administrative fee, documents show.

According to the order, McKie’s failed to file campaign disclosure reports after January 2015. The ethics commission fined McKie $600 for late filings of her 2015 and 2016 quarterly contribution reports.

Daily fines began accruing in August 2016. A complaint was then filed after the ethics commission said it received no response from McKie.

The filing further states that an agency investigator telephoned McKie on Sept. 29, 2016, instructing her to file the required paperwork.

“From October 27, 2016, and January 10, 2017, Commission investigators made multiple attempts to bring Respondent into compliance with no success,” the order states.

Investigators visited McKie’s home on Jan. 10, 2017, “to advise Respondent of the accruing penalties and the need to file the requisite reports,” the order continues.

McKie made an appointment with the agency the following day, but failed to file the reports, according to the order.

At that point, the ethics commission subpoenaed McKie’s campaign bank records. The last check written from that account was dated April 3, 2016.

“Respondent’s campaign bank account records revealed no other activity with the exception of bank fees in the amount of $10.00 per month until the bank account was force-closed on January 30, 2017,” ethics documents state.

The commission issued a Notice of Hearing to McKie in May 2018. The hearing took place June 21, but McKie didn’t appear, agency records state.