House votes to fire S.C. Public Safety director through budget

Director of South Carolina's Department of Public Safety, Leroy Smith. (SCDPS website)

The House has voted to fire the director of South Carolina's Department of Public Safety through the state budget.

Lawmakers voted 76-20 Tuesday to eliminate the director's position and reduce the agency's funding, effectively firing Leroy Smith.

Democratic Rep. Russell Ott says that's a decision for the governor.

But Republican Rep. Mike Pitts says the move represents legislators' only recourse. The retired law enforcement officer says both former Gov. Nikki Haley and Gov. Henry McMaster have rejected calls to fire the Cabinet director.

Pitts attributes the agency's high turnover to low morale over troopers' fears of being fired for minor issues.

Democratic Rep. Justin Bamberg says the fears are a problem, but "we can't just beat up on Director Smith."

A spokesman for Smith didn't immediately return messages.

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