NIKKI HALEY’S OUTGOING REVENUE DIRECTOR FOCUS OF INTENSE SPECULATION …
Soon-to-be former S.C. Department of Revenue (SCDOR) director Rick Reames dropped a pre-Thanksgiving bombshell on the Palmetto political scene this week with his announcement that he was leaving the administration of governor Nikki Haley (effective in January).
Unlike most of Haley’s cabinet directors, Reames has been an unqualified success since taking over SCDOR – an agency which was absolutely reeling at the time of his appointment.
Haley’s other appointees? (Ouch, ouch, ouch).
Anyway, not only did Reames take steps to protect taxpayers following a massive data breach that rocked SCDOR just prior to his arrival, but he has proven to be one of the few government officials in this state who is not afraid to crack down on corruption.
Reames’ decision to step down, then, is a major loss for good government in South Carolina.
But it could be just a temporary loss …
According to our sources, Reames’ return to the private sector might not last very long. In fact there has been abundant speculation in and around the state capital as to his future plans.
So far we’ve heard three credible theories …
The first (and most popular) explanation is that Reames – who recently moved his family to Camden, S.C. – is preparing to challenge S.C. Senator Vincent Sheheen for his seat in the S.C. General Assembly.
As we noted in this report, S.C. Senate District 27 (map) is trending Republican, and GOP leaders at the county and state level have been aggressively promoting Reames as the ideal candidate to defeat the liberal lawmaker.
Of course Sheheen just won another four-year term – meaning a campaign to unseat him really wouldn’t begin in earnest for at least another two years.
Another theory is that Reames is stepping down to campaign on a statewide ticket with Catherine Templeton – the former S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) director who recently confirmed her intention to run for governor in 2018.
That would certainly make the most sense from a timing standpoint … and sources close to Templeton have told us she is a fan of the outgoing SCDOR director.
The most interesting – and perhaps most promising – possibility lies behind door number three, though.
According to sources familiar with the vetting process, Reames is one of at least three individuals currently under consideration for the position of U.S. Attorney in South Carolina – which is the top federal prosecutor in the Palmetto State.
This key appointment will be made by U.S. president-elect Donald Trump.
Others reportedly being eyed for this post? S.C. Department of Corrections director Bryan Stirling and Columbia, S.C. attorney Robert Bolchoz.
Given Reames’ willingness to challenge corrupt local officials, we think he would be a natural fit as U.S. attorney – especially given Trump’s “Drain the Swamp” rhetoric – although we’re intrigued by the other two possibilities as well.
Stay tuned … we’ll be sure to update our readers when we learn more about Reames’ future plans.
(Banner via Travis Bell Photography)