State Rep. Jonathon Hill will pay a $12,000 fine for mishandling his campaign account, the S.C. House Ethics Committee decided May 5 after reaching a settlement with the Townville Republican.
Hill, a pariah in Statehouse GOP circles for his frequent criticism of fellow Republicans, admitted to 54 counts of violating the state Ethics Act as part of the agreement, including a charge that he used campaign funds to pay for a personal mortgage. The House Ethics Committee also issued him a public reprimand.
House Ethics Committee Chairman Jay Jordan noted the fine is worth more than the $10,400 salary South Carolina’s part-time legislators earn every year.
“It’s a very, very significant fine,” the Florence Republican told The Post and Courier. “I think it conveys the seriousness of (the charges).”
Hill, a Tea Party activist who isn’t seeking reelection this year, initially faced a maximum fine of $266,000 from 133 ethics charges, many of which were either dismissed or consolidated as part of the settlement.
The 37-year-old software engineer and his attorney, Tom Fernandez, shrugged off most of the charges as technical violations made in ignorance of campaign finance rules.
Fernandez said Hill’s use of campaign money to cover a mortgage payment of nearly $1,200 was a mix-up he corrected within days. Hill used the same bank for both his personal accounts and his campaign account and accidentally clicked the wrong one when paying his monthly mortgage, Fernandez said.
“We’re obviously happy that it’s over,” Fernandez said on May 5. “We wish there was a better resolution to it. We still stand by the fact that this was all started when Rep. Hill reported himself when he found some irregularities with his campaign accounts and his campaign.”