Gov. MacMaster's First 100 Days: Failure?
This is an expanded version of a column that appeared last week in The State newspaper.
May 4 marked Gov. Henry McMaster’s 100th day in office. Since there was such a flurry of reporting about Pres. Trump’s first 100 days, it seems appropriate to look at what Gov. McMaster has achieved in his first 100 days.
The title of this column “Failure?” asks the question. Below is a simple recounting of the facts (not alternative facts) as reported by the state’s media. I then offer my opinion and I leave it to you the readers to decide for yourself if McMaster has been a failure.
Request of $5.18 billion from Trump – On Feb. 6, The Post and Courier reported “In his first major action as governor, Henry McMaster penned a letter to President Donald Trump on Monday, requesting nearly $5.2 billion to help fund a laundry list of infrastructure projects…” There has been no public response from Trump.
A Diet for State Government – On Feb. 22, McMaster announced, “State government is going to have to go on a diet as far as spending.” This was in response to the first draft of the state budget that did not give state employees a pay raise.
Pay Raise for Staff – On Feb 24, (two days after the above announcement) McMaster announced his Chief of Staff Trey Walker got a $30,000 or 23% pay raise – raising his salary to $165,000. The governor’s salary is $106, 078.
Financial Shell Game as Chairman of S.C. GOP – On March 15, The Post and Courier reported that a long buried 2004 S.C. Republican Party audit revealed that “Powerful South Carolina operatives aided Gov. Henry McMaster’s political rise by running a financial shell game in 2000 that masked division and debt in the state Republican Party while he was chairman.” Among those as aiding McMaster with in and out cash payments of $60,000 were Richard Quinn and his companies.
McMaster Denies Kickbacks – On March 17, The State newspaper reported, “S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster has not received any money personally – whether rebates or kickbacks (from Quinn) … McMaster has paid Quinn and Associates $504,000 since 2009…”
Continuing Support for Quinn – On March 17, The Post and Courier reported that Gov. McMaster “is standing by his longtime political strategist, Richard Quinn, despite the powerful Republican consultant being implicated in newly released indictments… ‘We’ve worked together for a lot of years on political things, and I intend to continue working with them.’ “ (On March 17, he reaffirmed his support for Richard Quinn.)
Release of Income Taxes – On March 23, Gov. McMaster made available 15 years of his personal income taxes for viewing by the media. As reported by The Post and Courier, “The outcome was not so clear… Reporters only had access to the tax documents — a stack nearly a foot tall — for several hours, making it nearly impossible for the governor’s financial history to be thoroughly vetted.”
Gas Tax Veto – On April 4, Gov. McMaster said that he will veto any measure to fix South Carolina’s roads that raises taxes. If he makes good on his threat, the results will probably be no significant improvement in our roads – rated by some as the worst in the country.
Borrow Money for Roads – On April 4th, Gov. McMaster said the state should borrow up to $1 billion to pay for road repairs. The Republican Speaker of the House Jay Lucas said, “Borrowing more money to fix South Carolina’s roads and bridges will not serve as a permanent solution to our infrastructure crisis.”
McMaster Supports Carrying Guns Without Permit – On April 14, The State reported that Gov, McMaster supported legislation that “would allow anyone who is legally allowed to buy a gun to do so without getting a state permit and carry it openly or concealed.”
Republican Leaders Criticize McMaster for Campaigning Not Governing – On April 20, The State ran a story with the headline “McMaster Campaigning, Not Governing, Lawmakers Say.” A selection of quotes in the story from members of McMaster’s own Republican leadership include: Senate President Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman on McMaster’s road funding plan, “That’s one of the most foolhardy things I’ve ever heard.” House Speaker Jay Lucas called McMaster’s plan “not only fiscally imprudent, it’s dangerous to the state’s finances.” “It’s one thing to be principled and take a stand. It’s another thing to see which way the political winds are blowing,” state Rep. Gary Clary, R-Pickens, said of McMaster’s opposition to raising the gas tax and pushing to borrow money for roads instead.
McMaster and Quinn Paid $1 Million By USC – On April 24, The Post and Courier said, “USC paid $1 million to McMaster and his embattled political consultant.” The article recounts how McMaster and Quinn both began working together with USC in February 2011. McMaster received $553,084 for his fundraising work.
McMaster Signs State Pension Bill – On April 24, Gov. McMaster signed the pension reform bill as reported by The Post and Courier, “meant to fix a state pension system that impacts one in nine South Carolinians… Even with the additional funding, the pension plan isn’t expected to meet the recommended funding level for several decades.”
The above is a factual listing of the events of Gov. McMaster’s first 100 days.
From my perspective, McMaster has been a failure.
He said his relationship with Trump would benefit South Carolina – it hasn’t. He was hypocritical about reducing state spending while giving a pay raise to his chief of staff. He twice refused to disavow his crony Richard Quinn and his unethical (if not illegal) practices – past and present. His income tax release was a ‘fake disclosure’ of trying to appear transparent; if he really wanted to be transparent, he could have just put it all on the internet.
He refused to support a gas tax so he can be ‘pure’ on taxes while supporting borrowing money that will cost taxpayers far more in the long run. Even McMaster’s own Republican legislative leadership publicly criticizes him for playing politics and not governing. He supports irresponsible gun laws that will make us less safe. With Richard Quinn, he cashed in on his political influence with a big money USC contract. And, he signed a ‘quick fix’ pension bill that in reality just kicks the can down the road.
I leave it to you the readers, to make your own judgement.