- The Republican-led South Carolina Senate filed a lawsuit on Tuesday with the state Supreme Court against Republican Gov. Henry McMaster for appointing a board chair to the state-owned utility Santee Cooper without legislative approval.
- McMaster nominated former Attorney General Charlie Condon to the position in December, and appointed him as interim chairman last month, after the state legislature adjourned in June for its 2018 session. McMaster said Condon will lead the utility's next board meeting this month, according to the Charleston Post and Courier.
- The lawsuit says the "balance of power between the executive and legislative branches is at stake" and that McMaster is not legally allowed to make an interim appointment.
This is not the first time McMaster has butted heads with the state Senate over Santee Cooper. McMaster has been pushing for the privatization of the state-owned utility, and appointed himself to a committee of state representatives and senators that aims to issue recommendations on the utility's sale for the next legislative term.
Santee Cooper is $4 billion in debt for its role as a minority stakeholder in the failed V.C. Summer nuclear construction project. South Carolina can only sell the utility with legislative approval.
The lawsuit is not a personal action against either McMaster or Condon, Senate President Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman said in a statement. In filing the lawsuit on behalf of the Senate, Leatherman said he is defending "the Senate's constitutionally and statutorily mandated role so that the constitutional check on executive appointments endures."
The Senate is petitioning for an expedited review of the matter from the state Supreme Court. Regarding the challenge, the law is on the side of the appointment, McMaster told the Post and Courier.