A South Carolina Republican state lawmaker who has decided to forgo running for re-election will still face a hearing on April 28 to answer for charges that he committed 133 ethics violations while in office.
According to the Post Courier, Rep. Jonathon Hill (R-Townville) came into office as a Tea Party activist, has been accused of, among other charges, using campaign funds to pay his mortgage as well as other personal bills.
The report states that the House Ethics Committee has scheduled public hearings where he will be allowed to defend himself.
"The four-term House member can use that forum, as well as a more formal, trial-like hearing May 13, to dispute allegations that he mishandled his campaign bank account, failed to properly track donations and expenses and used the money to cover personal charges," the report states adding, "Hill, who is not seeking reelection this year, also has the option to admit to some or all of the charges and plead for leniency. The Tea Party activist and software engineer faces up to $266,000 in fines — $2,000 per count — if found guilty. "
Hill’s lawyer, Tony Fernandez, indicated his client will attempt to negotiate a settlement.
According to the Post Courier, should a settlement not be reached, "the State Ethics Commission, which investigated Hill’s campaign finances and recommended formal charges, will prosecute the case. Both sides can call witnesses, issue subpoenas and request documents through discovery."
The report adds that Hill had a requested an audit by the state that brought the campaign money discrepancies to light while also noting the lawmaker, "... whose frequent 'no' votes and scathing criticism of fellow Republicans has made him an outcast in the Statehouse, has declined to comment publicly on the charges."
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