Politics & Government

Lt. Gov. McMaster gets added security ahead of transition

As Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster prepares to move into the governor's office, Protective Services has set up a post in front of his Columbia home.
As Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster prepares to move into the governor's office, Protective Services has set up a post in front of his Columbia home. tdominick@thestate.com

Henry McMaster has not yet made any public comment on his move into the Governor’s Mansion, but part of the mansion already has come to him.

The lieutenant governor’s private residence now has a security detail from the state Bureau of Protective Services, the agency that normally provides security for the governor.

An emergency communications trailer has been set up in the median of Columbia’s Senate Street, outside McMaster’s home. A Protective Services car could be seen parked nearby Tuesday.

McMaster will assume the state’s highest office if Gov. Nikki Haley is confirmed as the new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, following her nomination by President-elect Donald Trump.

McMaster and Haley met last week to plan the transition between their two offices, according to a news release Tuesday from the lieutenant governor’s office.

McMaster also has named two Columbia-area businessmen, Ed McMullen and Bill Stern, to lead his transition.

McMullen is a former executive at the conservative Heritage Foundation and the S.C. Policy Council who recently chaired Trump’s S.C. presidential campaign. Bill Stern, a developer, is chairman emeritus and a current board member of the S.C. Ports Authority.

While the transition could be months away, the state’s security agencies already are treating South Carolina’s second-in-command as an incoming chief executive.

“This would be the same protocol that we use for the governor-elect during the transition following an election,” said Sherri Iacobelli, communications director for the S.C. Department of Public Safety, which includes the Bureau of Protective Services.

Protective Services will provide security for the next governor’s home before McMaster moves into the Governor’s Mansion. McMaster also has been provided with a State Law Enforcement Division-led security detail, which also includes officers from Public Safety and the Department of Natural Resources, for his personal security.

There are other signs McMaster is moving into the governor’s role.

McMaster will fill in for Haley as the chair of Friday’s meeting of the S.C. Military Base Task Force, which brings together the governor with the commanding officers of the state’s military bases.

Public Safety officials did not provide a cost associated with the extra security Tuesday, although Iacobelli said it was “within the normal scope of our duties and would be done with any transfer of power.”

“The cost would be absorbed into our day-to-day budget and operating expenses,” she said.

SLED spokesman Thom Berry declined to cite a cost difference between the protection McMaster would receive as an incoming governor and the security service he already receives as lieutenant governor. He cited the agency’s policy of not disclosing any specifics pertaining to security operations.