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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

District 4 House Rep Has Conflict Of Interest With His Printing Business

From The Nerve SC: 

District 4 House Rep Has Conflict Of Interest With His Printing Business

Rep. David “Davey” Hiott, R-Pickens & Chairman of the House Agriculture, Natural Resources & Environmental Affairs Committee, reported spending a total of $6,500 in 2012 and last year on his business – the Hiott Printing Company – for what he labeled as “printing materials” and “printing for campaign.” 

He faced opposition in both the 2012 and 2014 Republican primaries, though he had no formal opponents in the general elections in those years.

And other lawmakers have spent campaign funds on Hiott’s business, The Nerve’s review found. Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens and the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, for example, reported spending a total of $6,905 from November 2008 through December last year, mainly for what he listed as “Christmas cards.” Rep. Bill Whitmire, R-Oconee, reported spending a collective $4,135 in 2012 for what he labeled as “campaign cards” and a “mailer.”

State ethics law (Section 8-13-1348 of the S.C. Code of Laws) bans campaign funds from being “converted to personal use,” or used to “defray personal expenses which are unrelated to the campaign or the office if the candidate is an officeholder.” 

Another law (Section 8-13-700) prohibits a public official from using his office to “obtain an economic interest for himself, a family member, an individual with whom he is associated, or a business with which he is principal owner."

Ethics Committee ‘Pre-Approval’

Contacted last week by The Nerve, Hiott, who was first elected to the House in 2004, confirmed that he has spent campaign funds on his business, and that other lawmakers have used their campaign accounts to pay his company. Besides Martin and Whitmire, other lawmakers who have made purchases from his business include Reps. Carl Anderson, D-Georgetown, and Samuel Rivers, R-Berkeley; and former Rep. Don Bowen, R-Anderson, he said.

“I did some printing for myself, and I paid the company what it would cost,” Hiott said, adding that for other lawmakers, “It’s the same price I would give them what I would give to anyone else.”

Hiott said a House Ethics Committee staffer verbally told him other lawmakers could spend their campaign funds on his business for allowable purposes under the law so long as he wasn’t giving them any special deals.

Asked by The Nerve if he made a profit by spending campaign funds on his business, Hiott said he was advised by the Ethics Committee staffer that “you charge yourself the same thing you would charge anyone else.”

Hiott couldn’t identify the Ethics Committee staffer when asked by The Nerve, adding that he “didn’t have anything in writing” from the committee. Rep. Kenny  Bingham, R-Lexington and the House Ethics Committee chairman, told The Nerve for a story last month on Rep. Alan Clemmons, R-Horry, who spent $29,297 from January 2008 through January 2014 on ties and scarves for House members, staffs and others, that informal opinions generally are secret, citing “attorney-client privilege.”

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