SC politics: Former Haley aide confirmed as prisons chief

February 20, 2014 

Bryan Stirling

Bryan Stirling

Former Haley aide confirmed as prisons chief

Bryan Stirling is the new permanent director of the S.C. Department of Corrections.

Stirling, 43, was confirmed Wednesday by the state Senate as the permanent director by a vote of 33-0.

The new director has inherited a highly publicized court action that recently resulted in a state judge issuing a historic, sweeping ruling that sharply criticized the state’s treatment of mentally ill prisoners and ordered the state to make major improvements.

Stirling has taken some steps to upgrade those conditions, but the plaintiffs say much remains to be done, both by the Corrections Department and in increased funding by the Legislature.

Stirling was nominated for the post last September by Gov. Nikki Haley. At that time, he was her chief of staff. Prior to that, he was a deputy attorney general for both Henry McMaster and Alan Wilson.

As state prisons director, Stirling oversees a staff of 5,700 employees, 26 penal institutions and 21,400 inmates.

Sally Atwater formally files to run for S.C. education superintendent

The widow of Republican campaign strategist Lee Atwater, known for his take-no-prisoners tactics, officially has entered the race to be South Carolina’s next schools superintendent.

Sally Atwater filed her initial disclosure Wednesday after opening a campaign account with a $47,575 loan to herself.

Atwater said she’s leaving her job Friday as a special education teacher in Colleton County to campaign full time in her first run for elected office.

The 62-year-old Union native was widowed in 1991, when Lee Atwater died of complications from a brain tumor, leaving her a single mother of three young girls. She returned to South Carolina – and the classroom – in 2012.

Lee Atwater is considered the pioneer of modern day attack politics. He engineered wins for Ronald Reagan and the elder George Bush.

Watchdog: Analysis needed of escalating MOX costs

A federal watchdog says officials overseeing a S.C. project to turn weapons-grade plutonium into commercial nuclear reactor fuel should have a better handle on why costs have ballooned.

The General Accountability Office says in a report Thursday the U.S. Department of Energy needs to analyze cost increases for the mixed-oxide fuel program.

The MOX plant would be the first of its kind in the United States to create fuel from weapons-grade plutonium. It’s being built at the Savannah River Site, a former nuclear bomb plant whose reactors have been shuttered for years.

Construction began in 2007. Last year, the GAO said the project was more than three years behind its 2016 completion deadline and at least $3 billion over budget.

John Monk and the Associated Press contributed

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