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McMaster: Absurd, unlawful for Santee Cooper Board to cancel meeting

McMaster: Absurd and unlawful for Santee Cooper Board to cancel meeting. (Lena Pringle)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) – “Absurd and unlawful” were just two heated accusations waged by Gov. Henry McMaster against the controversial utility Santee Cooper.

The statements were made in response to a meeting set for Monday afternoon that was cancelled by the utility last week.

"It [Santee Cooper] is resisting efforts and fighting against transparency and accountability," said McMaster. "Their actions are absurd; they are unlawful."

The Monday meeting was originally scheduled back in January of this year, but McMaster said Interim President James Brogdan Jr. called his office last Friday to postpone the meeting.

McMaster, however, says this was unacceptable and added that the meeting had been set since January and to change it legally would require another Board meeting.

“At every step, we have been resisted by Santee Cooper,” McMaster said. “It is a rogue state agency and it is not abiding by the law. It is resisting efforts and fighting against transparency and accountability. Their actions are absurd … they are unlawful.”

More bad news also came McMaster’s way when Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the value of the company.

Representative James Smith, who is set to run against McMaster in November's gubernatorial election responded to the downgrade -- along with the heated statements made by McMaster -- during the press conference. Smith released the following statement Monday afternoon:

This is a mess, and it’s Henry McMaster’s fault. Once again, he’s more concerned with scoring political points than looking after the hard-working people of our state. Moody’s has downgraded Santee Cooper’s bond rating – something that hurts small investors across South Carolina – for two reasons. One is the nuclear plant fiasco that has happened on Henry’s watch, and the other the uncertainty over governance caused by his unilateral appointment of Charlie Condon to chair the board. In his time as governor, utility rates have skyrocketed, and the gross mismanagement of co-ops has been shocking. The South Carolina Senate, controlled by the governor’s own party, has sued him over the Condon appointment. This sort of thing will not happen when I am governor. I will comply with the law in making appointments, and will do so in consultation with other state leaders, not in defiance of them. And my appointees will actually know something about running utilities. We have to move Santee Cooper into the modern era, one in which renewable energy is a bigger player and rates go down. Henry is going out of his way to take us in the opposite direction.

Other lawmakers, including Senator John Scott, questioned why Condon was being included in discussions over the cancellation.

"I'm not sure whether or not this has upset the governor because they canceled the meeting," said Scott. "I noticed in the letter that Charlie Condon is being CC'ed on the letter. I can't quite figure that out yet because he's not chairman of the board yet."

There has been a recent political outcry over McMaster's appointment of the former S.C. Attorney General to head the agency. Senate President Pro Tem Hugh Leatherman filed a lawsuit against the governor saying his appointment is unlawful and must be subject to a vote by lawmakers before being formally put into effect.

WACH FOX attempted to make contact with Santee Cooper officials and is awaiting a response.

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