SC’s Most Impotent Office … Has Power?

INSIDE BASEBALL IS ABOUT TO EITHER KILL … OR PASS … NIKKI HALEY’S “ETHICS” BILL || By FITSNEWS || The lieutenant governor’s office in South Carolina is beyond impotent.  Its occupant – “Republican” Henry McMaster – has two real functions: First, to preside over the State Senate (ceremonial), second to run…


|| By FITSNEWS || The lieutenant governor’s office in South Carolina is beyond impotent.  Its occupant – “Republican” Henry McMaster – has two real functions: First, to preside over the State Senate (ceremonial), second to run the state’s Office on Aging (bureaucratic).

In fact the office is such a joke, lawmakers have gone to great lengths in order to avoid having to occupy it … 

For the moment, though, McMaster appears to have been endowed with some real power – albeit temporarily.

How’d that happen?

Well …

It all started two weeks ago, when S.C. governor Nikki Haley traveled to Florence, S.C. and called out powerful Senate president Hugh Leatherman (in his own backyard) for standing in the way of her so-called “ethics reform” bill.

Now, let’s get something out of the way before we go any further: Haley’s current ethics bill is crap.  Just like her last ethics bill was crap.  Not only that, Haley is a complete and total hypocrite on the issue of ethics reform.

Seriously … we’re amazed she doesn’t get struck by lightning every time the words “ethics reform” escape her lips.

But Leatherman – stung by Haley’s criticism (as well as the “Japanese Surrender”-sized headlines it produced in his hometown paper) – vowed revenge against the governor.  And this week the diminutive liberal – who happens to be the most powerful man in state government – got his revenge.

How’d it go down?

For those of you not hip to parliamentary procedure (hell, we feel sorry for you if you are), a single State Senator can block any piece of legislation that isn’t set for “special order” – which means any bill that isn’t fast-tracked (or placed in a prominent position on the Senate’s calendar).

Senators, you see, are slaves to their calendar.  If a bill isn’t set for special order, it faces an uphill battle just to receive a hearing – let alone a vote – and those who oppose it can procedurally kill it with ease.


Haley – desperate to get her ethics bill passed – had been expending tons of political capital in the State Senate in recent weeks in order to ensure she had the two-thirds majority necessary to get her ethics bill set for “special order.”

In fact the chairman of the Senate’s rules committee, Ronnie Cromer, had been among the governor’s staunchest supporters in that effort – rallying Senators in support of the governor’s bill.

Displeased by Cromer’s advocacy?  Leatherman … especially after the governor came into his own back yard and slapped him around like a little, um, “digger.”

So Leatherman made a simple strategic move – one designed to ensure Haley’s “ethics reform” remained deader than the proverbial doornail.

And as much as we can’t stand the guy … it was a thing of Machiavellian beauty.

As a matter of Senate custom, when it comes time to set pieces of legislation for special order – the presiding officer of the State Senate (the lieutenant governor) always calls upon the rules committee chairman to make the motion.

At that point, the rules committee chairman calls out the bill number – and Senators vote (at which point Haley would need her two-thirds majority to show up and vote).

Well this week – in a surprise breach of custom – lieutenant governor McMaster decided not to call on Cromer when it came time for Senators to vote on a special order matter.  Instead, he called on Leatherman.

Why?  And why does that matter?

We can only assume Leatherman told him to do so … but whatever caused McMaster to call on Leatherman, the impact is seismic.


“Leatherman stripped Cromer of his right to decide which bills we vote on for special order” one Senator on the rules committee told FITS, referring to the move as “payback for Cromer supporting Nikki.”

And again … why does it matter?

“Leatherman now controls the calendar,” another Senator told FITS.  “If he doesn’t want a bill to be debated, now it won’t be.  Nikki can get her two-thirds majority – it won’t matter.  If McMaster keeps calling on Leatherman whenever it’s time to set bills for special order, then we will never get a chance to vote on the bill.”

That’s power, people …

Well, for as long as McMaster plays ball …

At any point, the lieutenant governor could conceivably revert to custom and call on Cromer – thus siding with Haley on the issue.

Will he do it?  We shall see … our guess is McMaster is so dumb he hasn’t even figured any of this out yet.

It’s interesting, though, how a simple procedural move has suddenly elevated this ceremonial, part-time position from impotence to holding some real sway over the legislative process.

Pic: Travis Bell Photography


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Gift Leatherman some Depends March 26, 2015 at 5:24 pm

Ha Ha! Ole Leatherface is pretty savvy for an oldster.

I smell burned rooster coming down the pike though.

shifty henry March 26, 2015 at 7:18 pm

“I smell burned rooster..” I’m stealing that phrase!


FastEddy23 March 26, 2015 at 6:16 pm

Same, same here in Taxifornia… Except our Lt. Gov. stumps state wide for “progressive” laws and more and more taxes.

just another guy March 26, 2015 at 6:42 pm

I would argue that the Lt. Gov is more powerful than the Governor. What true power does the Governor have? As you can see as the presiding officer of the senate, he can yield power and 99% of the power is in the GA in this state.

Now all this changes in 2018 when the Lt Gov truely has zero power at that point as they will no longer be the presiding officer of the senate.

Old Man Leather Is an Asswipe March 26, 2015 at 7:09 pm

Leatherman is running a very real risk of getting his ass physically kicked. Is the man insane? Absolutely Leatherman, is. 10s of Thousands across the state of SC are saying he deserves a good old kick in those tiny little balls of his.

Time for your applesauce Hugh March 26, 2015 at 9:22 pm

Kicking his ass would probably feel the same as beating up a garden gnome. There be some momentary pleasure followed by some guilt, then laughter.

I say I say! March 27, 2015 at 12:09 pm

… and then you would have to clean all of the shit off of your shoe.

Former Senate Employee March 27, 2015 at 5:01 pm

And, end up with that skirt chasing, cretin , Harvey Peeler to replace Leatherman. You may think leatherman is bad, and he is; but, Peeler makes Leatherman look like Mother Teressa with brains!

Granite Halls March 26, 2015 at 7:54 pm

The last Lt. Governor this State had with any brains or balls was probably Nancy Stevenson!
Earl Morris…crook
Nick Theodore…empty suit, but nice guy
Mike Daniel…nice guy/stuffed suit
Bob Peeler…joke, dumb, skirt chasing adulterer
Andre Bauer….immature, imbecilic man child
Ken Ard……unethical crook
Yancy McGill….dumb, dumb, dumb

GrandTango March 26, 2015 at 8:25 pm

Or we should elect: you FITS and Boz…y’all are GREAT, w/ all the answers…er’body else is stupid and corrupt…

You win FIRST PRIZE in the ‘TYPICAL FITS MINION’ competition…

Harry March 27, 2015 at 6:30 am

McMaster has always been an establishment man. And a Florence man by birth.

He hired a Democrat to run the office on Aging.

Conservatives can’t count on mcMaster. Senator Leatherman can

I say I say! March 27, 2015 at 12:05 pm

First Joseph McMaster burglarizes a home, and now Henry McMaster robs a senator of his customary authority. Amazing.


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