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POLITICS: SC lawmakers argue to turn a private law school into a public one

02/02/2014 10:13 AM

02/02/2014 10:26 AM

Is this state big enough two public law schools? Perhaps so, if a few key legislators get their way.

They are trying to stop the sale of the private Charleston School of Law to for-profit InfiLaw and put the school under the College of Charleston or University of South Carolina, The State's Adam Beam reports .

But other lawmakers say South Carolina already struggles to sustain the state’s 33 publicly funded colleges, universities and technical schools, adding the state should not interfere with private business transactions.

InfiLaw, which owns for-profit law schools in Phoenix, Jacksonville and Charlotte, has a contract to buy the Charleston School of Law from an attorney and two retired federal judges. But the state Commission on Higher Education – whose members are appointed by the governor upon the advice of state lawmakers – must grant InfiLaw a license to operate in South Carolina before the sale can go through.

“This is a private transaction between two entities, both of whom own and operate for-profit law schools,” said Kevin Hall, a Columbia attorney with strong ties to Republican political circles that InfiLaw has hired to help with the sale. “To me, it involves all the public interest of a Burger King transaction. But the politics and the desire for a second publicly funded law school has kicked in.”

State Reps. Leon Stavrinakis, Peter McCoy and Bobby Harrell – all from Charleston – have sent a letter to the Commission on Higher Education raising questions about the proposed deal, including InfiLaw’s debt. Harrell is the speaker of the House, and his son, Trey, is a 2011 graduate of the Charleston School of Law and a member of its alumni board.

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A blog from The State's political team of Cassie Cope, Jamie Self and Andy Shain. Email tips to Follow The Buzz @buzzatthestate. Follow Cassie @cassielcope. Follow Jamie @jamiemself. Follow Andy @andyshain.

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