Supreme Court is asked whether the governor can temporarily replace a suspended senator

John Crangle
John Crangle File photograph

A longtime ethics watchdog wants the state Supreme Court to give the go-ahead for Gov. Henry McMaster to appoint a temporary replacement for suspended state Sen. John Courson of Columbia.

John Crangle, a resident of the area that Courson represents, is asking the court to rule that a fill-in can be named to serve until criminal charges against Courson are resolved. The request was contained in a lawsuit that Crangle said was sent to the court Friday.

The effort comes after McMaster declined to name a temporary replacement.

If successful, Crangle’s request would clear the way for McMaster to make the appointment.

No governor has made a temporary appointment that Crangle contends is allowed under ethics standards adopted in 1993 when other lawmakers were suspended.

The rule was put in place after 16 lawmakers were indicted as part of Operation Lost Trust, a federal corruption probe, and all but one was removed from office.

The Senate district that Courson has represented for 33 years has 110,000 residents and spans parts of Richland and Lexington counties.

Courson has been indicted by the State Grand Jury on charges of misconduct in office and conversion of campaign funds to personal use. He has denied any wrongdoing.

His post likely will be vacant “for the foreseeable future” until his criminal case is resolved, leaving no one to represent and assist residents, Crangle’s lawsuit said.

Crangle, who supports both Democrats and Republicans, has said he has no candidate in mind for the temporary appointment.

Tim Flach: 803-771-8483

Related stories from The State in Columbia SC