COLUMBIA, SC State Rep. Greg Delleney is your new House Judiciary Committee chairman.
The Chester Republican has been quietly lining up votes for the job ever since Judiciary chairman Jim Harrison, R-Richland, said he would retire earlier this year. Delleneys election to the post, which sources tell The Buzz is locked up, will become official when House members gather Tuesday and Wednesday to elect leadership for the upcoming session.
If I am elected, its an honor I could have never imagined when I entered the legislature almost 21 years ago, Delleney said.
Next to the House Ways and Means Committee which handles the state budget the Judiciary Committee is the Houses most-sought-after committee assignment. The committee has its hand on everything from criminal law changes to civil court reform to government restructuring.
That last item, restructuring, will be a huge issue during the next legislative session.
Gov. Nikki Haley once again will try to pass a government restructuring bill that would consolidate much of state governments administrative functions under a new Department of Administration that like the embattled state Revenue Department would report directly to her. The law would give the governors office more power over state government, which Haley argues would make the states chief executive more accountable to the voters.
Haleys enemies would love to kill restructuring to give the governor a political black eye heading into her 2014 re-election campaign. But it will be up to a Delleney-led Judiciary Committee to get the bill on its way to passage.
Delleney voted for the Department of Administration bill last year and says he will vote for it again this year because, Its the will of the House.
But that doesnt mean he likes it.
(South Carolinians) were Jeffersonian little r Republicans. We were not strong central government Hamiltonian-type people, Delleney said. The legislative branch was always supposed to be the strongest branch just because it was the branch closest to the people. We never had any use for a king. We fought two wars over that.
Then, Delleney added what many others have been thinking, in the wake of the hacking disaster at the Haley-led Revenue Department: It seems to me that recently the scandals ... have erupted in cabinet-level agencies, more so than any other agencies. I dont know why that is, but that has been a problem.
Still, Delleney promised he would not block the bill.
Im not going to stand in the way, he said. But restructuring is a two-edged sword.
Some free advice for Gov. Haley
A crisis management expert has some advice to Gov. Nikki Haley on the state CEOs handling of the Revenue Department hacking attack: Drop the but from your mea culpa.
To review, Haley spent nearly four weeks saying nothing could have stopped the bad guys from swiping the personal data of 6.9 million people and businesses off tax records. Oh, and no one in state government was to blame. Then, after getting an investigative report, Haley admitted the state could have done more and let the agencys head resign.
Taking responsibility was the right choice but came a little too late to be entirely credible, Shannon Bowen, a USC mass communications professor who specializes in handling PR messes, told The Buzz.
The guv needed to start the mea culpas on Day 1, Bowen said. People tend to forgive if you show remorse right away.
Bowen, who worked for a D.C. polling firm and the late U.S. Rep. Floyd Spence, R-Lexington, has a theory about why Haley started accepting some of the blame last week.
There was a potential she might not get re-elected, Bowen said. Someone told her to take some responsibility here. You need to repent. If you dont, they will see you as part of problem.
But the governors newfound willingness to say our bad came with a but aimed at the feds as in Our bad, but the state followed IRS rules that did not protect information very well.
Thats an overall dumb strategy, Bowen says.
She is counting on everyone despising the IRS, Bowen said. No one will see them as the guardian of information in South Carolina.
Well get to see what Haleys constituents think of her performance soon. Winthrop University will release a poll including a new reading on Haleys approval rating Wednesday. The poll was taken after the hacking incident.
Out with Sen. Lieberman and in with the new third amigo
They need a third amigo at all times. So now they have now two of the three are women now at least one of the three are women.
Game Change co-author John Heilemann questioning the gender of U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on MSNBCs " Morning Joe" program last week. (For years, Graham and U.S. Sens. John McCain and Joe Lieberman have travelled and pontificated together. However, Lieberman is retiring and his place in the three amigos seemingly has been taken by U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-New Hampshire.) The network did not re-air the comment when the segment was rebroadcast later in the day. Grahams office had no comment.
State staff writer Andrew Shain also contributed to this article