McKie guilty of ethics violation

COLUMBIA – Guilty.

That’s the determination of the State Ethics Commission in response to Richland 2 school board member Amelia McKie’s latest campaign law violation.

McKie

In an order filed Nov. 30, the ethics commission said McKie violated state law by not disclosing her government salary of $9,600 on her 2021 Statement of Economic Interest (SEI) form.

The commission fined McKie $1,000 and tacked on a $550 administrative fee. She was also issued a public reprimand, documents state.

McKie has 10 days from receipt of the order to appeal.

At her hearing in October, McKie attributed the violation to misunderstanding state campaign finance law.

McKie testified that a South Carolina School Board Association speaker, who she could not name, advised her and other board members that board pay was a stipend and not subject to reporting.

When pressed about the meeting where she learned this, McKie said her stipend explanation was merely her interpretation, not necessarily what the school board association speaker actually said.

“Clearly it was my misinterpretation,” she said.

“I’m not putting the onus of my misinterpretation on the school board association,” McKie testified. “As soon as I was notified that I was wrong, I brought myself into compliance immediately,” McKie said.

Gus Philpott, a Richland County community activist who filed the initial complaint against McKie, previously commented to The Voice that, “The statements of economic interest are supposed to be accurate. She failed to disclose their income, so that’s a violation,” he said. “She failed to disclose her income from a public office.”

State law requires all candidates for political office to file a timely and accurate SEI before they can be sworn in. SEI forms are designed to include a candidate’s income that might pose a conflict of interest.

Not properly filing an SEI form can have profound consequences. In 2012, an S.C. Supreme Court ruling kicked over 250 candidates off the ballot because they failed to properly file SEI forms.

According to court records, McKie filed her SEI form on time, but failed to report her school board salary on the form.

Documents state that when notified by an ethics investigator, McKie immediately amended her SEI form to include her $9,600 salary.

“Respondent stated that she did not intend to violate the Ethics Act,” the order states. “Respondent further stated that she did not disclose her government income in 2021 based on a misinterpretation of the requirements of the Ethics Act. Respondent accepted responsibility for her failure to disclose.”

If McKie doesn’t appeal, she has 45 days from receipt of the order to contact the commission to set up a payment plan.

The $1,550 penalty must be paid in full within 90 days of McKie receiving the order. Otherwise, McKie will face a $2,500 judgment, the order states.

McKie is already on a repayment plan with the commission to pay $57,100 in back fines stemming from previous ethics fines issued in 2016, 2020 and 2021, ethics records show.

McKie did not seek re-election last month and will vacate her board seat in 2023.

Comments

  1. I’d love a “payment plan” like the one McKie is on. First of all, the Ethics Commission says she is NOT on a payment plan with them. So, is it with the SC DOR? Her “payment plan” must be Zero down, Zero interest, and Zero payment per month, because the balance ($57,100) owned to the Ethics Commission has not gone down for months. Even if she paid $100/month, it will take her 571 months to pay off her debt, excluding the new $1,550. That’s 47½ YEARS.

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