SC

Palmetto Power Shift: It’s Hugh Leatherman’s World

FOR AS LONG AS HE CAN HANG ON …  Years ago this website used to annually compile a list of the 100 most powerful South Carolina politicos … until we realized most people had never heard of the vast majority of them (meaning the only people reading it were those…

FOR AS LONG AS HE CAN HANG ON … 

Years ago this website used to annually compile a list of the 100 most powerful South Carolina politicos … until we realized most people had never heard of the vast majority of them (meaning the only people reading it were those whose names were on the list).

Anyway, a fixture on those scoresheets was S.C. Sen. Hugh Leatherman – a diminutive “Republican” from Florence, S.C. who has served in the South Carolina Senate for the last 33 years.

Leatherman’s power stemmed from his control of the Senate’s finance committee – a panel which wields unrivaled authority over the state budget (which keeps growing and growing and growing).  He’s still got that juice, too.  Earlier this year Leatherman became the Senate’s president, too, a move that dramatically expanded his influence.

Of course it’s not just what the 83-year-old native of Lincoln County, North Carolina has done to expand his own power … it’s what the state’s other top “Republicans” have done to diminish theirs.

Leatherman’s influence over the all-powerful S.C. General Assembly reached its zenith in 2014, of that there can be no doubt.

But it wasn’t just because he corruptly engineered his ascension to the Senate presidency, it was because the only other politician in South Carolina who could even approach his level of influence – S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell – was mired in scandal.

Now with Harrell indicted on corruption charges (and suspended from office) – Leatherman is the undisputed ruler of the legislative branch, a virtual dictator who can impose his will at will .

Wait … what about the state’s governor, Nikki Haley?

For those of you who haven’t familiarized yourselves with South Carolina’s antiquated, 1895-style system of government – the Palmetto State’s “chief executive” is basically a figurehead who controls only a portion of her own branch of government.  And with Haley staring down an escalating scandal at her child welfare agency, her constitutional weakness could soon translate into political weakness as well (not like Haley was exactly tearing it up before her latest scandal broke).

At this point, Haley is still likely to win reelection on November 4 – although her job approval numbers remain weak.  Meanwhile Harrell is unlikely to survive as Speaker.

That means Leatherman would enter 2015 in a position of unrivaled power – with an unpopular governor limping into her second term and a brand new Speaker of the House (widely believed to be Jay Lucas) sitting opposite him in the S.C. State House.

That’s a recipe for Leatherman to do as he pleases … which you better believe will be incredibly hazardous to your bottom line as a taxpayer.

The only question? How long can Leatherman hang on …

Some say the answer is “forever.”

“That old f*cker is never gonna die,” one lawmaker lamented to FITS. “They won’t let him.”

Maybe so … but there’s a growing buzz surrounding Leatherman’s diminished capacity that can’t be ignored.

Back in June we published a report about Leatherman’s health – one that referenced him losing control of his bodily functions (we’ve since learned more about an unfortunate incident in a State House elevator).  More to the point, the report referenced that Leatherman was experiencing decreased cognitive function – especially in mid-afternoon meetings.

Crazy isn’t it?  The guy who now wields absolute power over the Palmetto State wears diapers and can’t remember anything after 4:00 p.m.

Scary …

Frankly, we don’t see anything changing in South Carolina anytime soon – no matter who is in charge.  The system is built to protect entrenched special interests (most of them taxpayer-subsidized), and those who try and stand up to those interests get crushed.

That’s why long-overdue reforms that would benefit the broader public – i.e. individual income tax relief, universal parental choice and a draconian reduction in the size and scope of state government – never materialize.

One thing is for certain, though.  State government is now squarely under the thumb of a man who has no intention of changing the course that has brought South Carolina to where it is today.

Pic: Travis Bell Photography

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18 comments

you know me September 12, 2014 at 10:53 am

Great, the most powerful person in the state needs to wear Depends.

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Silvio Dante September 12, 2014 at 1:49 pm

The “Vote Hugh, He’s Dependable” ads will practically write themselves.

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Yay for senility! September 12, 2014 at 4:51 pm

There’s a hidden blessing in the prospect that one who attained so much power is approaching the inability to use it effectively as his mind diminishes.

It’s almost Faustian.

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FastEddy23 September 13, 2014 at 8:55 pm

… The Elder Statesman? “…He’s Dependable”? … The “… secretive concrete connection”? (FITS: concrete connection / https://www.fitsnews.com/2013/02/05/the-littlest-diggers-concrete-corruption-expands/) … Solid, in the bag? … That’s gotta smart.

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Corrupt September 12, 2014 at 11:04 am

I hear Leatherman controls several state agencies now too. PEBA, Department of Revenue and others. Tell me another state where a senator controls executive agencies? Banana Republic here in SC.

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Facts September 12, 2014 at 11:19 am

DOR is a cabinet agency with the head appointed by the Governor. PEBAs head is appointed by a board. Leatherman can’t control them.

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Native September 12, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Haley will simply remove her cabinet heads if they answer to Leatherman. The Governor and Haley hate each other so she’s not gonna let her lackeys answer to him.

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Mark September 12, 2014 at 7:34 pm

I have known Hugh since he was mayor. He is not to be trusted.

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Scrappy September 12, 2014 at 5:10 pm

Who do you think appoints the “board”?

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Philip Branton September 12, 2014 at 11:45 am

Read this fluff piece…..

http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20140912/PC1603/140919838/1177

Leathermen is getting a light “masseuse”….

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Philip Branton September 12, 2014 at 11:06 am

***….meanwhile in the ISIS headquarters of Proctor and Gamble…***

Brother Ibrahim: ” Just look at this report, no wonder our sales are so lackluster around here. We have no 83 year old geezers to wear our products in a commercial to inform consumers here in the Arab region about our great Depends product line…”

Brother Cashveli: “Heck, just think of the great propaganda poster we can make at the same time to lift the spirits of our men..!! Don’t be like old American men….. DIE for Allah before you need Depends….”

Brother Ibrahim: ‘Doesn’t that do right the opposite for our sales marketing…!”

Brother Cashveli: “You idiot…..depends make a lot of great bandages to sop up all the blood in an operating room…!! They make great tissues at wakes for all our women to use too….”

Brother Ibrahim: ” I dont think that is what our local Mullah had in mind when we got this distributorship…”

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The Colonel September 12, 2014 at 11:08 am

“…the Palmetto State’s “chief executive” is basically a figurehead who controls only a portion of her own branch of government…
And yet to believe many of your posts and thousands of the comments, Nikki is responsible for all the ills of our fair state…

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yeah right September 12, 2014 at 11:56 am

Dss, scdot, scdew, scdor all monumental failures all Haley cabinet agencies

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Just another guy September 12, 2014 at 12:02 pm

If Hugh goes, imagine the power vacuum that would come from that. Sic, you would have more the write about than you could ever dream.

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The Dome September 12, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Leatherman and Harvey Peeler hate each others guts, make NO mistake!
It is kind of like Hollings and Thurmon. Hollings despised being the Junior Senator from SC. Peeler took the majority position from Leatherman and wants to be Chairman of Finance so bad he begrudges every breath Leatherman draws. Leatherman and Haley cannot stand each other either. Harvey Peeler is Haley’s Senate lap dog in the Senate. Talk about an unholy alliance! Leatherman despises the Peelers (Bob/Harvey) and will attend sessions 10 years after he passes to deny them the power they worship above all else, except a skirt to chase.
If Harv bumps Leatherman off, he and his brother, infamous Bob Peeler (trash lobbyist,Clemson’s maggot trustee) will turn South Carolina into an international cesspool!!
The State desperately needs God’s intervention on this one.

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Buz Martin September 12, 2014 at 4:58 pm

/// Crazy isn’t it? The guy who now wields absolute power over the Palmetto State wears diapers and can’t remember anything after 4:00 p.m. ///

Par for the course, actually.

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TontoBubbaGoldstein September 13, 2014 at 10:25 am

*cough* Strom Thurmond’s last couple terms. *cough*

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Squishy123 September 12, 2014 at 5:49 pm

What’s the story about the elevator? Did Hugh forget that once you hit 80 that you never trust a fart?

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