What's an ethics commission to do? Even ethics commissions with teeth,
that is, with the ability to fine officials, rarely have a way of
actually collecting the fines. And if they do have a way of collecting
fines, it can make things look unfair.
Take South Carolina, whose ethics commission has jurisdiction over
local government officials. According to its online debtors'
, officials, candidates, and lobbyists owe about $4 million in
fines. Several owe hundreds of thousands of dollars each and, according
in the Post and Courier
early this year, have refused to
file the necessary reports or discuss a settlement.