BRIEFS: The new governor’s staffers; Dark money bills filed

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Lt. Giov. Henry McMaster took the oath of office this week from S.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Don Beatty to become the state’s new governor. Former Gov. Nikki Haley, now an ambassador, is at left. McMaster’s wife, Peggy, stands between her husband and Beatty. Photo provided by the Office of the Governor.

Looking behind the man

Staff reports  |  Newly sworn-in Gov. Henry McMaster has yet to name all of his office staff, but plans to do soon.

McMaster is in the transition process from serving as lieutenant governor to governor. His predecessor Nikki Haley was confirmed earlier this week by Congress to become the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

McMaster’s longtime right-hand man, Trey Walker, is his chief of staff.  Brian Symmes, a holdover from Haley’s press office, has been elevated to director of communications and spokesman. Mark Plowden, McMaster’s chief of staff from the lieutenant governor’s office, will reportedly work in the office, too.  Stay tuned.

Targeting dark money

One of the most powerful leaders in state politics, state Sen. Hugh Leatherman (R-Florence), has introduced a bill to get rid of “dark” money political contributions in South Carolina.


That bill would not stop the flow of money, but would require donors to reveal themselves. Leatherman, the president pro tempore of the Senate and the chair of that chamber’s powerful Finance Committee, reportedly feels he was stung by dark money in his primary.  So too were Judiciary Chair Luke Rankin (R-Myrtle Beach), and former state Sen. Larry Martin (R-Pickens), who some believe was ousted by unregulated independent campaign expenditures..

Leatherman’s bill would represent the opposite of the federal Citizens United lawsuit ruling, which preserved the anonymity of political donations top national races.

Earlier this week in the House, state Rep. James Smith (D-Columbia) introduced a similar bill, H. 3571, which  seeks to require independent expenditure committees to disclose sources of income, with several provisions.


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