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Floyd: Sheheen may have violated Ethics Act by not disclosing firm’s earnings

Firm’s work before state raises ethics questions, creates appearance of “profiting from connections”

Columbia, SC – October 11, 2010 – Democratic gubernatorial nominee Vince Sheheen’s unrelenting attacks on his Republican opponent reek of hypocrisy, SCGOP Chairman Karen Floyd said today, after news reports noted Sheheen’s failure to disclose much of his firm’s legal work before the state – and the fact that his legal income quadrupled since becoming a lawmaker.

An article today uncovered that Vince Sheheen’s law firm has made almost one million dollars suing the state. As a partner in the firm, Sheheen shares in the firm’s profits. Yet many of the most profitable cases, like those involving suing the state Department of Transportation, were not reported to the state Ethics Commission by Sheheen. Other lawyer-legislators whose firms do work before the state report not only their personal income, but income of the firm as well.

“Vince Sheheen has for months harped on Nikki Haley for not voluntarily reporting income that she is not even required to disclose, yet today we find out that he is guilty of far worse,” Floyd said. “At worst, he may have violated state Ethics Laws for not reporting all of his firm’s dealings before the state. At best, it’s a glaring case of hypocrisy that he isn’t holding himself to the same standard he’s holding Nikki to.”

In addition, the story reported that Sheheen’s income as an attorney has nearly quadrupled since becoming a legislator, with much of his income coming from representing people before state boards, his firm suing the state, or in some cases his firm representing the state.

“If this isn’t a case of someone using their political connections to enhance their own bottom line, I don’t know what is,” Floyd said. “Once again, Vince Sheheen is guilty of disingenuously attacking his opponent with false charges, all the while profiting handsomely from his work before the state as a sitting state Senator.”

Sheheen has so far refused to release his legal clients, saying that they’re protected under attorney-client privilege. However, any client for whom he filed a case or a motion in any court is a matter of public record, though not easily accessible without expensive and cumbersome legal databases.

“The idea that publicly-filed court cases are somehow exempt from public scrutiny is absurd,” Floyd continued. “Today’s report raises some legitimate questions about the true nature of Vince Sheheen’s law practice, and today we once again call on him to disclose his clients so that the public can scrutinize his legal work in this critical time before the election.”

To read today’s report in its entirety, click here.