As reported by Lake and Main in March of last year and again ten months ago, Lexington Town Councilman Ted Stambolitis’ residence qualification to serve on Town Council is questionable. Now, it appears he has chosen to ignore state ethics regulations as well. Could the two issues be connected?
According to the South Carolina State Ethics Commission, “all public officials” are required to submit an annual Statement of Economic Interest by 30 March for the previous calendar year. Failure to do so is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine or jail time or both.
In the screenshot above from the SC Ethics Commission website, Councilman Stambolitis’ name does not appear, indicating he did not submit the required Statement of Economic Interest.
Why does Councilman Stambolitis think the rules don’t apply to him? All of the other town officials take the law and public service seriously.
Was he merely sloppy? Maybe it just slipped his mind – for the last six months. Well, if so, it’s damning testimony of his fitness to serve in an elected position.
For what other reason might he ignore state law? Well, maybe he just didn’t know. Nope, he submitted last year. Besides, the Town clerk emails reminders to each council member reminding them of the submission requirement deadline.
In response to an email requesting clarification on what is required in the SEI, the State Ethics Commission provided the following:
Effective January 1, 2017, all filers must disclose (1) the source (Company/Business) and (2) the type (salary, wages, etc.) but not the amount of any private income received in the previous year by the filer or a member of the filer’s immediate family under the Income & Benefits section of the 2017 SEI.
Immediate family means a child residing in the household, a spouse, or an individual claimed as a dependent for income tax purposes. Income means anything of value received, which must be reported on a form used by the Internal Revenue Service.
Income does not include the following:
1. Retirement, annuity, pension, IRA, disability, or deferred compensation payments .
2. Income from a court order.
3. Income from a savings, checking, or brokerage account with a bank, savings and loan, or other licensed financial institution which offers savings, checking, or brokerage accounts in the ordinary course of its business and on terms and interest rates generally available to a member of the general public without regard to status as a public official, public member, or public employee.
4. A mutual fund or similar fund in which an investment company invests its shareholders’ money in a diversified selection of securities.
Now suppose – and this is just a hypothetical, you understand – SUPPOSE someone didn’t want to disclose details about their income. Maybe – hypothetically – they’re renting a house they own and don’t want anyone to know that the particular property is an income source. No big deal, unless they claim that property as their primary residence.
Does Mr. Stambolitis rent his property in the town of Lexington, yet claim it as his residence so he can stay on the Council, all the while actually living on Lake Murray beyond town limits?
Whatever the reason for Counciman Stambolitis’ recalcitrance regarding the mandated Ethics Commission regulations, he owes residents, the Council and the state an answer.