S.C. politics (+ video)

Two more named to S.C. State board

Lawmakers appointed two more interim S.C. State University trustees on Tuesday, including a four-time Super Bowl winner.

Three of the seven temporary board members have been named to help turn around the state’s only historically black public college, which has a $20 million deficit and is struggling to keep its accreditation.

Gov. Nikki Haley signed a bill last week firing the current board at the 119-year-old school in Orangeburg.

Donnie Shell, who played football at S.C. State before going on to a 14-season NFL career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, was named Tuesday as an interim trustee by Senate Education Committee chairman John Courson, R-Richland. Shell, who lives in Rock Hill, won four pro titles with the Steelers.

Steve Swanson, who has run Wall Street trading technology firms and donated $2.2 million to his alma mater, the College of Charleston, was appointed to the S.C. State board by Rep. Jim Merrill, a Berkeley Republican who chairs the House higher education budget panel.

Haley appointed retired investment banker Milton Irvin last week.

The remainder of the appointments must be made by the end of the week, according to the new law. Remaining appointments will come from: Senate Finance Committee chairman Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence; House Ways and Means Committee chairman Brian White, R-Anderson; state Treasurer Curtis Loftis, R-Lexington; and state Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman, R-Saluda.

The interim S.C. State trustees will serve into mid-2018.

Graham takes trip down memory lane at State House

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham returned to his roots Tuesday to gather support for his expected presidential run.

Graham visited with lawmakers, staff members, pages, security officers, custodial staff and anyone else who would listen during a trip to the S.C. State House.

Graham’s political career started here in 1993 when his neighbors in Seneca sent him to the state House. He would serve one two-year term before he moved on to the U.S. House and 10 years later, the U.S. Senate. Graham joked it was an economic move, trading a four-figure salary as a part-time state legislator for a six-figure salary as a full-time congressman.

The House Majority Caucus invited him, and Graham gave them mostly a speech hitting on his chief themes of security through a strong military and active foreign policy and a desire to try and find some common ground with Democrats on domestic issues like reforming Social Security and immigration.

“Those who yell the most, do the least,” Graham said.

Graham joked about his recent series of interviews where he keeps upping the percentage chance he is going to run. It has gone from 91 percent to 98.6 percent in interviews the past few weeks. He started his speech saying he was 99 percent sure he was running, then 13 minutes later raised that to 99.9 percent.

“I’m very proud of y'all. Y'all have governed this state well, and at the end of the day, South Carolina has been in good hands,” Graham told his fellow Republicans.

Governor’s schedule, activities

Gov. Nikki Haley’s publicly announced schedule for the rest of this week, released Tuesday by her staff, is:

Wednesday, 4 p.m.: Event for SucceedSC , Midlands Technical College, Irmo

Thursday, 11 a.m.: Event for SucceedSC, Abundant Life Church, Irby Street, Florence

Friday, noon: Media availability immediately following hurricane tabletop exercise with state agencies, S.C. Hospital Association, Columbia

According to her staff, Haley’s schedule last week included:

9: Economic-development activities, including three meetings; attending an entrepreneurship event in Mount Pleasant; a business tour; and calls to Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt; state Treasurer Curtis Loftis; House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Darlington; and Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler, R-Cherokee

4: Legislative meetings

3 each: Policy meetings; also, agency activities, a meeting, visiting a Motor Vehicles office, and attending a Labor, Licensing and Regulation luncheon

2 each: USC graduation activities, addressing graduates and attending a dinner; also, phone calls to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and businessman Milton Irvin, who Haley named to the S.C. State board of trustees

1 each: Media activity, a press conference for the 2015 S.C. Fit Family Challenge; also, a ceremonial duty, meeting with students from Charleston Day School visiting the State House; also, an address, to the Children's Mental Health Awareness Week rally in Columbia

Busiest day: Tuesday, with six activities

Slowest day: Friday, with three activities

Of note: The governor also had three activities Sunday, Volvo-related phones calls to officials

Andrew Shain, The Associated Press, staff reports