Orangeburg Coroner Marshall Fined $ 17,000 After Years of Neglecting Ethics Forms | News

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A chronic failure to file its required financial disclosures will cost the coroner-elect for Orangeburg County $ 17,000, the state ethics watchdog has ruled.

And that’s even after the state’s Ethics Commission lowered Samuetta Marshall’s initial fine by $ 5,000 following her clemency appeal last month.

The Dec. 3 commission’s decision comes on top of a mound of ethical fines the Holly Hill Democrat has been sentenced to in her nearly 30 years as an official investigating suspicious deaths in the county of Orangeburg.

Marshall has a long history of failing to file reports detailing his fundraising campaign and spending, as well as ethics forms disclosing his sources of income. Such forms are the basis of government accountability, revealing potential conflicts of interest and revealing who funds politicians’ campaigns.

The 61-year-old also ignored repeated efforts by the Ethics Commission to reach her about these forms and the late filing fees she was racking up, ethics investigators said. She didn’t even attend her July ethics hearing to defend herself.

Marshall and his attorney, Orangeburg attorney Thomas Sims, did not respond to requests for comment on December 15.

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The Post and Courier first highlighted Marshall’s case in August as part of an uncovered investigation of South Carolina politicians who refuse to pay their ethics fines but face few consequences. The newspaper and 17 community news outlets have partnered with Uncovered to speak out against government misconduct and the failing system of ethics review in Palmetto State.

In total, around fifty practicing public officials are registered with the “list of debtors“- a 28-page chart of politicians, lobbyists and businesses who ignored their ethics fines.

Marshall will join the list if she doesn’t pay her new fine by May 2022.

The Ethics Commission fined him $ 22,600 this summer for failing to file a 2016 campaign report; failure to disclose a contribution to the 2016 campaign; and neglecting to file financial statements in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Marshall appealed the fine in a hearing last month. Sims offered no defense to his client. He admitted that Marshall had not filed his required campaign reports and ethics forms for years, but nonetheless asked for a lower fine and the ability to pay the money in monthly installments.

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Marshall told ethics commissioners she was not sure she could pay her fines. Top Ethics Commission lawyer Courtney Laster pushed back. She noted that Marshall earns over $ 51,000 a year as a coroner and also runs a funeral home business in Holly Hill.

Yet the commission ultimately reduced Marshall’s penalty by more than $ 5,000. She must pay the $ 17,000 in five monthly installments of $ 3,400 starting in January. If she misses one of the payments, her fine reverts to the original amount: $ 22,600.

This isn’t Marshall’s first ethical fine, and she has a mixed record of paying past penalties.

The Ethics Commission has already collected more than $ 28,000 in fines and costs from Marshall, most of them related to his inability to complete campaign and ethics documents on time. But the agency had to seize more than $ 10,000 of that amount from Marshall’s salary after it failed to pay.

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Yet Orangeburg County voters have re-elected her multiple times, most recently in 2020.

During her appeal hearing last month, Marshall said she did not plan to be re-elected when her term expires in 2024.

His first fine payment is due on January 15.

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