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#SCStateHouse: Henry McMaster Comes To Brian White’s Defense

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South Carolina governor Henry McMaster has shut down a third party radio and mail campaign against fiscally liberal S.C. House ways and means chairman Brian White, multiple sources have confirmed to this news site.

We previously reported that McMaster reached out to White in an effort to “mend fences” after several of his allies were linked to these attack ads, but the overture apparently went much deeper than that.

McMaster was reportedly so upset about being linked to the ads, he ordered the attacks against White to stop – which they have.

What gives?  It’s quite the soap opera … one we’re just beginning to unravel.

We’ve written previously about these third party broadsides against White, who is standing for reelection (along with every other member of the S.C. House of Representatives) this year.

White, 50, is seeking another term representing S.C. House District 6 (map) – a seat he has held since the 2000 election.  If he can stay in office, he will continue to serve as chairman of arguably the most powerful panel in state government – the one which serves as the originating point for the state budget as well as all proposed tax reform.

Who wants White ousted from this influential position? 

Honestly?  We do …

The guy is a blank check supporter of more taxingborrowing and spending on a government that consistently produces abysmal outcomes – economicallyfiscallyeducationally and with regards to infrastructurepublic safety and other core functions of government.

But we haven’t run ads targeting White … at least not yet.  Our founding editor Will Folks’ political organization might get involved at some point, but at the moment we are waiting to see whether a credible challenger emerges.

Hopefully one will …

Who has gotten involved?  Citizens Opposed to Arrogant Politicians, a mysterious third-party group based in the Palmetto Upstate that has run several radio and print ads attacking White over a variety of issues – including controversies exclusively reported on years ago by this news site.

Who is behind this group?

Good question … 

In late January, this news site reported that “several operatives with ties to the gubernatorial campaign of Henry McMaster are involved in the effort.”

This development surprised us …

“Why on earth would McMaster’s network – which has found itself in an unexpectedly ferocious fight for political survival ahead of this June’s GOP gubernatorial primary – open another front against an influential legislative leader?” we wrote at the time.  “Right at the moment when McMaster desperately needs to demonstrate his ability to govern?”

Although politically unwise, McMaster’s involvement in a war against White would have been a welcome ideological development.

In fact, in our subsequent report about McMaster mending fences with the powerful legislative leader, we noted that his “effort to distance himself from the campaign against White is also very telling … proving once again that his ‘veto’ of a gas tax hike championed by White and other liberal “Republicans” in the S.C. General Assembly was all for show.”

Which it was …

“If McMaster were serious about taking a stand in support of lower taxes and less government, he would have publicly announced his intention to target White for defeat months ago when it became clear the veteran lawmaker would face a credible challenge,” we added.

He didn’t, though … perhaps because he was too busy signing the biggest tax hike in state history into law.

Now McMaster has basically called off the campaign against White … although the unwinding of the operation could create some uncomfortable exposure for several of his backers.

“The reverse engineering of this thing will be fascinating,” one veteran Upstate political operative told us.

According to our sources, an influential Upstate businessman with an ax to grind against White collaborated on the project with operatives working under the direction of former S.C. “Republican” party chairwoman Karen Floyd.

Floyd – no fan of this news site – declined to comment on this report.  In the event she does respond, we will be sure to update our coverage.

In the meantime, we’re told White’s attorneys are looking very closely at this operation – as well as its “unraveling” – in an effort to determine whether those who targeted him ran afoul of the law.

Stay tuned …

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