Abipartisan group of Charleston legislators took the right course this week by voting to rescind an August nomination to the Charleston County Aviation Authority. Gov. Nikki Haley should concur.
The appointment of Mallory Factor to a vacancy on the authority failed to meet the accountability test in a number of ways. A majority of the local House delegation voted to rescind on Tuesday, complaining that the vacancy hadn’t been advertised and that the nomination wasn’t on its August agenda.
Their decision recognizes that the public needs to be notified of vacancies so interested individuals can submit their names for consideration.
And making sure that an important appointment is placed on the agenda of a local delegation meeting will ensure that legislators and the public they represent are fully apprised of the business before the group.
Rep. Chip Limehouse, chairman of the local Legislative Delegation, insists that the appointment was done properly. “The delegation has been making appointments in this manner for a generation,” said the Charleston Republican, who has served in the House for 17 years.
The appointment would fill an unexpired term. The delegation advertised for the position when applications were originally sought, Rep. Limehouse said, adding that it is routine for the delegation to nominate for appointments from the floor.
Rather than persuasively justifying the process by which Mr. Factor was nominated, Mr. Limehouse’s explanation actually bolsters the case for a more open and accountable procedure.
As Rep. Jim Merrill, R-Daniel Island, told our reporter: “I do have an issue with us not following the proper procedure as far as listing the position and allowing people to apply for it and having an open meeting and the like.”
The delegation dispute follows a highly controversial vote by the Aviation Authority last week to give Rep. Limehouse, in his role as authority chairman, the power to hire and fire the airports director.
Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, who has a seat on the authority, was highly critical of that decision, saying it should be revoked and that Rep. Limehouse should be removed as head of the authority.
On Thursday, Mayor Riley reiterated his intention to push the issue at the next meeting of the authority, citing Rep. Limehouse’s “high-handed” leadership style.
Rep. Leon Stavrinakis, D-Charleston, similarly complained, “We’re not going to have government by dictatorship in Charleston County.” Rep. Stavrinakis led the effort to rescind the nomination.
Rep. Limehouse questions whether Tuesday’s vote was legal, and said he still supports Mr. Factor’s nomination. He described the opposition to the nomination as simply “politics.”
Mr. Factor, a Charleston resident, is a businessman and political commentator whose columns occasionally have been published on The Post and Courier’s op-ed pages.
Rep. Limehouse did say that he is prepared to have another vote on the appointment: “That’s not a problem; we can re-vote.”
That would be the right course — after the vacancy is properly posted, and the delegation and the public are notified.
Gov. Haley, who would formally approve the nomination, should acknowledge Tuesday’s request to rescind it.
Then the delegation should adjust its rules of procedure to ensure that they meet the standards of public oversight and accountability, and otherwise comply with the state’s Freedom of Information Act.