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US Attorney Race In South Carolina Still Going

Is Donald Trump’s White House any closer to resolving the proxy war for this critical prosecutorial position?

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Nearly a year after he took office, U.S. president Donald Trump has yet to designate a top federal prosecutor for the state of South Carolina.

What’s the hold up?

According to our sources, Trump has not selected a U.S. attorney for South Carolina because the White House political office continues to navigate an ongoing proxy war between former governor Nikki Haley and current governor Henry McMaster.

Haley – who is Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations – favors Columbia, S.C. white collar criminal attorney Sherri Lydon.  Lydon has also been backed by U.S. Senator Tim Scott.  McMaster favors Lowcountry lawyer Peter McCoy, a fourth-term state representative who previously served for five years as a deputy solicitor in Charleston, S.C.

McCoy is one of the top GOP lawmakers on the S.C. House judiciary committee, and until recently was a member of the legislative panel that screened out judicial candidates for election by members of the S.C. General Assembly.  He is well-regarded for his ethics – including his decision to step down from the judicial screening panel when his wife became a candidate for a judgeship.

As for Lydon, she’s a former assistant U.S. attorney and former chief of the statewide grand jury.

She was one of the lead prosecutors in Operation Lost Trust – the last major criminal corruption scandal to rock the S.C. General Assembly.  She was also the lead prosecutor in the Carolina Investors and Homegold investment debacle that rocked the Palmetto State back in 2003.

Haley appointed Lydon to the S.C. State Ethics Commission (SCSEC) in 2014.

Earlier this year we ran an exclusive report on Lydon’s brief work on behalf of one of the targets of the ongoing #ProbeGate investigation, but as we noted in that story “we’ve seen nothing to suggest she hasn’t conducted herself ethically throughout this process – including withdrawing herself from the case at the appropriate time.”

Bottom line?  Both candidates are capable, experienced and appear to have the sort of character required to fill this position.

Which one of them will ultimately get the job?  According to our sources, Lydon had a clear advantage last fall but McMaster has been pushing hard in recent weeks for McCoy – leveraging his influence with Trump.

We’re told that influence may be paying dividends for McCoy …

This post has been held on an interim basis for the past year by Beth Drake, who succeeded Bill Nettles – an appointee of former U.S. president Barack Obama.

Did Nettles distinguish himself in this post?  No.  Not at all.  In fact shortly after he stepped down he was briefly retained by some of the very people he should have been investigating.  We’ve obtained additional information about the extent to which Nettles was conflicted in this role that we plan on publishing soon, so stay tuned for that post.

Whoever gets this job must be tough, uncompromising and incorruptible … and whichever political faction wins the proxy battle raging behind the scenes, petty political tribalism must not be allowed to influence the discharge of its weighty responsibilities.

“It’s up to Trump to set a new tone for this post – hopefully one of aggressive intolerance when it comes to public corruption,” we noted back in June.  “Because let’s be honest: If any state is in need of a modern-day Eliot Ness, it’s South Carolina.”

We expanded on this theme in October in discussing Lydon’s candidacy …

“Public faith in South Carolina’s institutions – and the outcomes they’ve been producing – is at an all-time low,” we wrote.  “Trump’s choice for this office must reflect his administration’s commitment to restoring that trust.”

Indeed it must …

South Carolina desperately needs a top federal prosecutor committed to eradicating public corruption at all levels of government.  Let’s hope they get their Eliot Ness sooner rather than later.

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