Our Columbia: A City We Can Trust

Our Columbia: A City We Can Trust

From Washington to City Hall, people are fed up with the culture of carelessness infecting our politics. It must end here. That’s why we must have clear rules in place and an independent City Ethics Commission to hold our elected officials accountable by: Establishing an Independent City Ethics Commission, 

Our plan will:

  • Establish an Independent City Ethics Commission
  • Eliminate Conflicts of Interest
  • Establish a Clear Salary and Secondary Employment Policy
  • Eliminate False Statements and Undue Influence and
  • Strengthen the Lawyer & Lobbyist Ordinance

Establish an Independent City Ethics Commission

The independent City Ethics Commission will be empowered to:

  • Hear any and all ethics complaints and provide ethics guidance as necessary.
  • Produce and publicly publish a Quarterly Ethics Report as well as an Annual Ethics
  • Review. The Annual Ethics Review will be presented publicly during a regular meeting of City Council.
  • Establish an independent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) review panel.
  • In partnership with the SC Ethics Commission and the SC Press Association, establish and conduct mandatory ethics and FOIA training for all Council Members and Administrators (department head or higher).

Eliminate Conflicts of Interest

  • Prohibiting any organizations that have City Council Members or department heads on their governing boards from receiving any city funding or grants.
  • Banning City Council Members and/or their businesses from any funds either directly or indirectly administered/overseen by the city including any grants, loans or payments of any kind. 
  • Mandating that the immediate family of Council Members (including parents, spouse, siblings or children) may only receive city grants, loans or payments after an application has been reviewed by the City Ethics Commission and found no conflict of interest.
  • Mandating that City Council Members and city employees (department head or higher) must report any and all outside employment including the source, activity and amount paid and submit that report to the City Ethics Commission for review and public disclosure.
  • Prohibiting any sitting City Council Member from representing the City of Columbia in any legal matter.
  • Prohibiting any sitting City Council Member from lobbying for or representing another governmental agency without first disclosing the matter with the City’s Ethics Commission for review and public disclosure.

Establish a Clear Salary and Secondary Employment Policy

  • Prohibiting any City Council Member from voting on his/her salary and setting a clear procedure where Council Member salaries are regularly reviewed by the City Ethics Commission to determine if any adjustment is warranted.
  • Banning City Council Members and administrators (department head or higher) from receiving any waived or discounted fines or penalties unless required by law.  All city fines and/or penalties (including but not limited to parking tickets, late fees and nonpayment notices) must be reported publicly.

Eliminate False Statements and Undue Influence

  • Prohibiting City Council Members (unless expressly permitted) from testifying before or directly communicating with city board and/or commission members regarding an issue before said board and/or commission.
  • Expressly forbidding City Council Members and city spokespersons from knowingly making false statements publicly (to include social media statements). The City Ethics Commission will serve as the fact checking authority in such cases.

Strengthen the Lawyer & Lobbyist Ordinance

  • Amending Columbia’s Lawyer and Lobbyist Ordinance to clearly define who must register as a lawyer or lobbyist principal on matters.