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Henry McMaster Wants Santee Cooper Lobbying Records

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South Carolina governor Henry McMaster has issued a demand letter to the acting chairman of embattled state-owned utility Santee Cooper instructing him to “immediately furnish” a host of public records related to the entity’s lobbying efforts.

McMaster’s March 6 letter – addressed to William Finn – seeks “all contracts or agreements reflecting or memorializing Santee Cooper’s employment, registration, or retention of an individual or firm to engage in ‘lobbying’ activities,” “all payments from Santee Cooper to lobbyists for services rendered,” “all correspondence or communications exchanged between Santee Cooper and lobbyists” and last but not least “all correspondence or communications sent or received by lobbyists, in their capacity as lobbyists for or on behalf of Santee Cooper.”

McMaster’s four-pronged request covers all records dated January 1, 2017 or thereafter, and is “continuing in nature” – requiring what he terms “supplemental disclosures.”  It seeks the information “in original, unredacted form.”

Here’s a copy of the letter …

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(Via: S.C. Governor)

What’s going on?

McMaster – whose office is in the midst of negotiating a fire sale of Santee Cooper – is clearly hoping to document the entity’s interactions with lawmakers.

“He is laying the foundation for legislative resistance to any sale,” one state senator told us.

Will his efforts accomplish their objective?  Doubtful …

“There are plenty of Senators who need no convincing that they want to maintain control over a multi-billion dollar utility,” another senator told us.

McMaster’s play comes just days after this news site exclusively published secret documents detailing an offer for Santee Cooper – one ostensibly put forward by Florida-based NextEra Energy.

Why is Santee Cooper on the block?  Easy .. #NukeGate, a spectacularly failed command economic intervention in the Palmetto State’s energy industry.

With state lawmakers and regulators cheering them on, Santee Cooper and its crony capitalist partner SCANA spent $10 billion (including $2 billion taken directly from ratepayers) on a pair of next-generation nuclear reactors in Fairfield County, S.C.

The money was spent, but the reactors were never finished.  In fact they’re not even half-finished – with the cost to complete them reportedly ranging from anywhere between $9-16 billion.

Drowning in debt, Santee Cooper pulled the plug on the reactors seven months ago – killing an estimated 5,600 jobs, squandering billions of dollars in investment and throwing the state’s energy future into chaos.

Just eight days before it bailed on the project, Santee Cooper announced massive rate increases on customers tied to “costs associated with nuclear construction and other system improvements.”  The utility has also given its former leader a multimillion-dollar, taxpayer-subsidized golden parachute – even though documents released last summer showed its executives (and SCANA’s leaders) knew two years ago that the project was doomed.

This news site proposed selling Santee Cooper a decade ago – back when such a move would have brought billions of dollars to the state.

Now lawmakers will be lucky to get rid of it …

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