Politics & Government

June 3, 2014

SC politics: Voters to decide if governor names top soldier

Two days to go and no budget deal

Two days to go and no budget deal

The chairman of the S.C. House Ways and Means Committee, the main budget-writing committee for the House, said Tuesday he is hopeful representatives would take up the state budget Wednesday.

The budget goes into effect July 1, but representatives and senators have been negotiating differences in the spending plans adopted by those two bodies. Lawmakers are waiting until the last minute to decide where the state’s money will go – the session ends at 5 p.m. Thursday.

“Fundamentally, I think we’re kind of inline,” said House Ways and Means chairman Brian White, R-Anderson.

The main differences include $24 million the Senate wants to spend to expand 4-year-old kindergarten and about $16 million the Senate cut from local governments.

However, about $86 million more than legislators originally allocated recently was added last month to the budget by the Board of Economic Advisors, money lawmakers could use to settle their differences.

Lawmakers try to find ethics compromise

The leader of a committee trying to hash out a compromise on an ethics reform bill feels confident something will pass before this year’s session ends, but he is not sure how far the changes will go.

The biggest sticking point between the bills passed by the Senate and House is the creation of a 12-member committee to investigate all ethics complaints in South Carolina, including for judges and lawmakers.

The House created the committee in its ethics reform bill. During a conference committee Tuesday, state senators had plenty of questions. After discussing the bills, lawmakers decided to talk to their colleagues about a compromise.

Sen. Wes Hayes, R-York, said he thinks some reform can pass requiring lawmakers to disclose the sources of their income. But he isn’t sure the new investigatory committee can survive.

Campbell trails in fundraising

Mike Campbell, the son of the late Gov. Carroll Campbell, running as a Republican for lieutenant governor, raised $38,122 since April and had $22,062 on hand, according to his state campaign filing.

The Columbia businessman out-raised only one of the four GOP challengers for the state's No. 2 seat. He ran for lieutenant governor unsuccessfully in 2006, losing in a runoff to incumbent Andre Bauer.

Charleston developer Pat McKinney raised $109,068 since April 1 and had $201,638 on hand for the June 10 primary. The political newcomer has raised $832,218, including a $245,000 loan, since entering the race last summer.

Former state Attorney General Henry McMaster, a former GOP state party chairman who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2010, raised $225,420 since April and had $102,848 on hand.

Columbia pastor Ray Moore gathered $22,450 in the past two months and had $6,653 on hand.

Campbell, McMaster and Moore entered the race in March – months after McKinney.

The winner of the GOP primary will face Democratic state Rep. Bakari Sellers of Bamberg n November’s general election.

Four GOP legislators endorse Spearman

Several GOP lawmakers endorsed Molly Spearman for state superintendent of education on Tuesday.

Those endorsing Spearman were: state Sens. Billy O’Dell of Abbeville, Larry Martin of Pickens and Ronnie Cromer of Newberry, and state Rep. Ralph Shealy Kennedy of Lexington.

“As superintendent of education, she would be a strong advocate for the needs of rural districts like mine,” Martin said in a press release. “She has seen first-hand the challenges rural schools face and is prepared to address them head on.”

“Even when the pressure is on, she will continue to stand up for the rights of the parents and students,” said Kennedy, a former Lexington County school board member.

Spearman is one of eight Republican candidates in the June 10 primary for superintendent of education.

Few promises to weed out anti-American, anti-Christian textbooks

Sheri Few, a Republican candidate for superintendent of education, launched a 60-second radio ad Tuesday.

In the ad, airing on more than 30 stations across the state, Few touts her opposition to Common Core and support of school vouchers and tax credits.

“As superintendent, I’ll oversee a school textbook review and weed out those with anti-American or anti-Christina bias,” Few says in the ad. “Schools should be for learning. Not indoctrination.”

Voters to decide if governor appoints Guard commander

Gov. Nikki Haley signed legislation Tuesday outlining the qualifications needed to fill the post of the state’s top military officer if voters in November approve letting the governor appoint someone to the job.

South Carolina is the only state in the nation to elect its top military officer by popular vote.

At a news conference in the State House lobby, Haley hailed the measure as restructuring government to ensure it responds to the needs of its citizens. She praised the current adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Robert Livingston, as a “tremendous” partner who has dealt with international military deployments and natural disaster responses in his role as head of the Army and Air Force National Guard, the State Guard and the state’s Emergency Management Division.

Haley indicated she thinks voters will approve the measure, as they approved allowing the lieutenant governor and the governor to run on the same ticket in 2018. “It’s a very, very good thing,” she said.

Last month, the House and Senate agreed on the measure that put the constitutional question on the ballot. If voters approve, the governor will appoint the adjutant general beginning in 2019.

An accompanying bill, the one Haley signed, requires candidates for the job to have earned a general’s rank, attended a graduate-level military educational institute, have federally commissioned service in the state’s National Guard, and command experience at the battalion or squadron level, or higher.

Livingston ran unopposed in 2010, but this year faces James Breazeale of Florence, a commercial airline pilot who has been in the Army Reserves and deployed several times to Iraq and Kuwait.

Charleston councilman wants rebel flag removed from Citadel chapel

A Charleston County councilman wants The Citadel to remove a Confederate flag from a campus chapel.

Councilman Henry Darby said he will ask County Council to withhold nearly $1 million from the school unless it removes the flag, The (Charleston) Post and Courier reported. Darby said the Confederate flag in the Summerall Chapel makes it appear that the school is trying to preserve the Confederacy.

The Citadel says the flag is a “Confederate Naval Jack” that hangs in the rear of the chapel as a memorial. Citadel President Charles P. Summerall accepted the flag in 1939 as a “tribute to the courage and valor shown by American manhood in fighting for a cause,” the school said in a statement.

The school is scheduled to get $950,000 in accommodations tax revenue to help pay for renovations to Johnson Hagood Stadium, named for a Confederate general.

The Citadel said the flag is one of 57 hanging along the interior walls of Summerall Chapel. The school says it is covered by the state’s Heritage Act, approved by S.C. lawmakers in 2000 to protect established monuments and memorials on public property that represent U.S. wars or events of Native American and African-American significance.

Susan Smith prosecutor says he will run for governor in 4 years

Republican state Rep. Tommy Pope says he plans to run for governor in 2018.

The 51-year-old York representative and former prosecutor said Tuesday he made the decision after praying about it with his wife. Pope says a formal announcement is likely two years away.

Pope’s comments come five months before voters decide who will be governor for the next four years. Pope is running for a third term in the House in November.

Pope was chief prosecutor for York and Union counties from 1993 to 2006, when he went into private practice. He vaulted to nationwide fame in 1994 while prosecuting Susan Smith for killing her two sons by rolling her car into a Union County lake.

Cassie Cope, Andrew Shain, The Associated Press

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