Tuesday saw a flurry of appointments to key posts by S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster, four months after the Richland Republican was sworn in.
The state Senate confirmed McMaster’s appointment of four magistrate judges, two members to the commission that oversees Denmark Technical College and two members of the board that controls who gets parole from prison in the Palmetto State.
McMaster also named Sara Goldsby as director of the state’s drug-abuse treatment agency. Goldsby has been acting director of the agency since August.
Still unresolved is what McMaster will do about an expired term on the most controversial S.C. agency of all – the S.C. Department of Transportation Commission.
A critic of passing a gas-tax increase this year, McMaster has not yet named a successor to Transportation Commission chairman Mike Wooten, who openly advocated for the tax hike and has continued to serve on the commission since his term expired in February.
The governor’s office says McMaster will make a decision on that post soon.
“The governor decided that appointing new commissioners should be done once the (S.C.) General Assembly resolved the governance structure for DOT,” said McMaster spokesman Brian Symmes. “With the new law set to go into effect July 1st, he’s now weighing all of his options in regards to the future of the commission.”
Staffing the Cabinet
McMaster inherited a Cabinet with two acting directors when he became governor in January, after Nikki Haley resigned to become President Donald Trump’s U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
McMaster moved swiftly to appoint two new members to the S.C. Ports Authority board, replacing critics of payments the port had made to the governor’s longtime political consultant, Richard Quinn.
Otherwise, McMaster largely has kept Haley’s Cabinet intact except to fill vacancies.
For example, McMaster named Freddie Pough acting director at the S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice after then-director Sylvia Murray resigned. Murray stepped down the day after a scathing report came out about Juvenile Justice, soon after McMaster was sworn in.
Symmes said McMaster is pleased with Pough’s performance but did not say when the governor plans to name a permanent Juvenile Justice director.
In April, Christian Soura stepped down as the head of the state Department of Health and Human Services. The governor has formed an advisory panel to help him find a director to run the state’s Medicaid agency, a tough job in a time when the future of health-care policy is uncertain, Symmes said.