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GOP Gubernatorial Challenger Demands Ethics Changes

November 2, 2017 - Posted in This Week in South Carolina by Gavin Jackson

South Carolina Republican gubernatorial candidate Catherine Templeton held a press conference to call for resignation of indicted Sen. John Courson and Rep. Rick Quinn over alleged corruption charges. The backdrop was her former childhood home near Irmo, located in Courson’s district that, due to his indictment and suspension, has no Senate representation, currently.

“Their political cronies, even our governor, is shielding them from what they’ve done,” Templeton said, hitting at her main challenger Gov. Henry McMaster. “"It's time for him (McMaster) to call for the resignation of his friends.”

Rep. Chip Huggins (R-Lexington) represents the area in the House, not Quinn.

Legislative rules only require indicted lawmakers be suspended, however a supermajority of lawmakers is needed to expel them. Both Courson and Quinn maintain their innocence and their cases remain ongoing.

Still, Templeton took the opportunity to roll out a platform of ethics changes she’d work to implement if elected next November. She would symbolically not take the $106,078 salary and sign an executive order barring her staff from lobbying while she’s in office.

Other proposals would require votes by lawmakers that she’s looking to reign in, such as restricting senators to three 4-year terms and representatives to six 2-year terms, and also making the 170 state lawmakers subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

Despite term limits being a popular issue among conservatives, term limit bills in the Republican-held State House have never gained traction.

“I’ve never run for anything, I don’t owe any favors, I’ll never run for anything again, I can’t be bought,” Templeton said.

Templeton is one of four vying for the 2018 Republican Party gubernatorial nomination. She recently outraised incumbent Gov. Henry McMaster in the last quarter and both have nearly $2 million on hand. McMaster took over in January after Nikki Haley was confirmed the American ambassador to the United Nations.

Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant and former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill are also running and combined have raised $75,000.

McMaster is campaigning with President Donald Trump in his corner, after he became the first statewide elected official in the country to endorse Trump. The president attended a fundraiser last month in Greenville for McMaster and has appeared with the governor multiple times this year.

However, Templeton—who has never run for office and is brandishing herself as a true political outsider, compared to an entrenched McMaster—called out McMaster Wednesday on his past.

“We want someone who will speak for us, who is not afraid of the establishment, just like President Trump,” Templeton said. “While I very much support and am appreciative of the loyalty President Trump has for a politician who endorsed him—Henry ain’t Trump.”

Two Democrats, Columbia Rep. James Smith and Charleston businessman Phil Noble, recently declared their candidacies.

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