A South Carolina circuit judge has blocked Gov. Henry McMaster from firing the chairman of state-owned utility Santee Cooper’s board, at least until the chairman’s lawsuit against him is heard.
Circuit Judge Casey Manning issued the injunction order Friday, three days before McMaster’s self-imposed deadline for Chairman Leighton Lord to resign before the governor fired him. McMaster sent a Dec. 8 letter to Lord accusing him of withholding drafts of a critical report that outlined problems at the ill-fated V.C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station’s expansion.
Lord refused to step down, saying his office had turned over the documents requested. He accused the governor of trying to fire him for political reasons as Lord is supporting McMaster’s challenger next year Catherine Templeton. He said he would be willing to step down if McMaster recants the accusations.
Judge Manning has said his court will hear the case in the coming weeks.
A spokesman with the Governor’s office said in a statement they would continue to press for Lord’s removal when appropriate. “We certainly hope Mr. Lord understands just how bad his actions must look to the ratepayers who continue to be affected by Santee Cooper’s mismanagement of the V.C. Summer project,” spokesman Brian Symmes said in an email to the Post & Courier.