|| By FITSNEWS || Catherine Templeton – credited with taming the largest, most antiquated agency in South Carolina government – is back in the news this week. The former director of the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) has been working for the past three months as a consultant with the state’s Department of Revenue (SCDOR).
As reported by Andrew Shain of The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper, she’ll be off the public dole come July 1 … but why?
Speculation is swirling on any number of fronts … most prominently that Templeton is under consideration to become the next secretary of the S.C. Department of Transportation under governor Nikki Haley.
That’s apparently what was lost in translation when Shain reported that Templeton had “been approached about working with business groups trying to win a road-funding package in the Legislature.”
Templeton has been approached by business groups (and lawmakers), sure, although their ask has been that she consider becoming the next SCDOT leader – not lead an effort to raise the gas tax.
One business leader told FITS the idea was “to get Mrs. Fix-It where things need fixing.”
There are three problems with that theory, though …
First, if Templeton were nominated and confirmed as the next South Carolina transportation secretary – she wouldn’t be able to effect the sort of changes she implemented at SCDHEC. That’s because the governing board of SCDOT – as we noted in this post – is appointed by state lawmakers, not the governor.
Second, it’s not exactly clear the status of Templeton’s relationship with Haley – the woman who would have to appoint her. In fact multiple lawmakers told FITS Haley’s administration was spinning a narrative that Templeton had been “fired” from her consulting position with SCDOR – at Haley’s order.
SCDOR sources tell us that narrative is false, that Templeton was hired for a ” fraud prevention project” that “needed expedited project management” – and that she was chosen for the job because of her experience working with multiple state and federal agencies on “fraud identification and prevention.”
As for the timing of Templeton’s departure, the project she was spearheading was procured last month – and is currently in the process of being transitioned to the agency’s fraud unit. Even so, Haley loyalists are clearly spreading false rumors in an effort to damage Templeton … who reportedly got the SCDOR contract without Haley’s knowledge.
Third, and finally, Templeton has told her closest confidantes that she’s not interesting in the SCDOT job because it lacks “direct authority and accountability” and because she’s “not necessarily” on board with the gas tax hike being pushed by those also pushing for her nomination.
“She doesn’t think we need it until we find out how much waste there is at SCDOT that could be used for roads,” one of Templeton’s top advisors told FITS.
But again, until there is “direct authority and accountability” in this job – there’s no point in Templeton (or anyone worthwhile) taking it.
Unless of course they want to be a puppet …