Cindi Ross Scoppe

Embattled Santee Cooper chairman says he’ll resign — on his terms

SC Gov Henry McMaster notified Santee Cooper Board Chairman Leighton Lord that he would be fired if he doesn’t resign by Friday.
SC Gov Henry McMaster notified Santee Cooper Board Chairman Leighton Lord that he would be fired if he doesn’t resign by Friday.

The Santee Cooper board chairman who is fighting Gov. Henry McMaster’s attempt to remove him from office says he plans to resign – on his terms.

“I think we’ll win in court on this, but the day after we win, I’m going to resign,” Leighton Lord told me Tuesday. Challenging the governor’s order is “not about me being on the board. It’s not about me keeping this position. It’s about making sure the law is intact and me going back to private life.”

He says he is refusing to resign because Mr. McMaster is “wrong on the law” and because the facts the governor used to justify removing him from the part-time position are inaccurate.

“That law was made so that a director of Santee Cooper or the Ports Authroity had to really do something bad, had to commit malfeasance or misfeasance to be removed,” he said. “Maybe I should have raised hell with (prime contractor) Westinghouse, but I’m not sure anyone would say it was malfeasance in office.”

Mr. Lord was serving as chairman as the wheels were coming off the effort by the state-owned utility and SCE&G parent SCANA to build two new nuclear reactors at the V.C. Summer site in Fairfield County. They abandoned the project in July, after spending $9 billion, much of which will be paid for by ratepayers.

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Cindi Ross Scoppe


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The governor didn’t actually allege that Mr. Lord did anything wrong during the construction project — even though he and the rest of the members of both utilities’ boards clearly did plenty wrong. In an attempt to meet the requirements of a deeply flawed law, the governor fired Mr. Lord based on his actions since the utilities abandoned the project. As I’ll explain in another column I’m working on, while I believe board members need to go, I don’t think it will be easy for the governor to make the case that he has met the requirements of that deeply flawed law. (UPDATE: Read that column here.)

Mr. Lord said that after talking Jim Brogdon into taking over as interim CEO, he felt like he had to stay around long enough for the new leader to get acclimated. But before the governor’s letter asking him to resign or be fired, he had planned to step down in January, because like me, he said, he believes that governors ought to be able to appoint who they want to the board.

And the law that makes it difficult for governors to do that? That’s the law he’s now fighting to keep “intact.”

Ms. Scoppe writes editorials and columns for The State. Reach her at or (803) 771-8571 or follow her on Twitter or like her on Facebook @CindiScoppe.

More information

Here are some other pieces I’ve written about this that you might find helpful:

SC nuclear debacle, by the numbers

SC nuclear debacle: an updated timeline

These are the people who brought us the SCE&G/Santee Cooper nuclear debacle

Here’s who voted to give SCE&G a blank check

Still want to run government like a business? That’s insane

Kapow! SCE&G punches back at Santee Cooper criticisms

Is Santee Cooper gearing up for the fight of its life?

How much worse was the original Bechtel nuclear report?

Where to hide nuclear secrets? Behind a lawyer, of course

Santee Cooper’s role in SC nuclear debacle looks worse by the day

Does anyone at Santee Cooper remember who Santee Cooper works for?

South Carolina’s bizarre government might be driving up your power rates

Does it matter who’s in charge of SCANA?

Buying the benefit of the doubt: How donations secured SCE&G the means to squander billions.

If SCE&G customers get refunds, it’ll be thanks to these 8 words

You might want to hold off spending that SCE&G refund check

How ‘waste not, want not’ became ‘spend more, profit more’

SCE&G nuclear fiasco: It’s complicated. Here are some explanations.

SCE&G law could cost you more than you imagine