The South Carolina House unanimously passed a bill Wednesday that officially creates the state Office of Inspector General. It will now head to the Governor’s desk for her signature.
The bill had been strongly pushed for several years by state Sen. Vincent Sheheen (D-Kershaw), who called for the new position while running for governor in 2010.
“It would have the subpoena authority of the state. It would have jurisdiction over all of state government to go look for waste, fraud, and abuse,” he told reporters last week, “(It’s) something many other states have.”
Sheheen could not be reached Wednesday.
Gov. Nikki Haley, who defeated Sheheen, created the office by executive order last March. However its first director resigned a few weeks into the job, saying he was frustrated by the lack of staff and legal authority he was actually given by the order. Haley appointed the current Inspector General Jim Martin in June. However, due to the lack of an actual law, he was only able to investigate Cabinet agencies.
The bill had appeared to be on the fast track with little opposition in the Senate, but it became bogged down after the House focused much of its energies on redistricting. It passed with little debate Wednesday. In fact, only Rep. Jim Harrison (R-Columbia) spoke on the bill… and he was brief.
“I urge you to support this and we can quit talking it,” he told fellow legislators from the House floor.
Under the bill, the Inspector General would be appointed by the governor and approved by the Senate for a four-year term. The governor could only remove the Inspector General for misconduct or other wrongdoing.