S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster has tapped an ally to lead Santee Cooper's board after months of tension between the governor's office and the state-owned utility.
The Richland Republican on Wednesday said he has picked former state Attorney General Charlie Condon to replace former board chairman Leighton Lord.
Lord left that $24,000-a-year, part-time role after McMaster accused him of withholding crucial information about Santee Cooper’s response to its nuclear construction fiasco and threatened to fire him.
The appointment comes as McMaster champions an effort to sell Santee Cooper in order to pay back its customers money they paid for the failed expansion of the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station. It also come a day after McMaster ordered the state-owned utility to turn over its lobbying records to prove it hasn’t tried to persuade lawmakers not to pursue its sale.
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If the appointment is approved by a state board, Condon would lead Santee Cooper’s board through May and, then, be reappointed to a full, seven-year term, McMaster said in a press release.
McMaster said the Charleston Republican would “usher in a new era of accountability at Santee Cooper.”
In a statement, Condon said his goal is to “provide transparent and accountable leadership of the board, with the interests of ratepayers and customers my number one priority.”
State Sen. Larry Grooms, the Berkeley Republican whose district includes Santee Cooper’s headquarters, said he is happy with the pick.
“Charlie Condon is no rubber stamp,” Grooms said. “He’s his own person. He’s served our state well as attorney general, and I have confidence in his ability to lead the agency through troubled times.”
S.C. Democrats ripped the selection, noting McMaster and Condon are former clients of the Richard Quinn & Associates political consulting firm.
"While he was attorney general, Condon always used his office for partisan ends,” S.C. Democratic Party chairman Trav Robertson said in a statement. “It's disappointing that the governor looked to a fellow RQA client to lead Santee Cooper at a time when the state needs dependable leadership that is above reproach.”