COLUMBIA — The man who has spoken for South Carolina’s top prosecutor for nearly a decade is taking on a new role.

Department of Health and Environmental Control director Catherine Templeton said Mark Plowden is joining that agency to serve as its communications director. He starts July 16

Since 2003, Plowden has been a spokesman and chief executive assistant for two different state attorneys general, Henry McMaster and now Alan Wilson. Prior to that, he was a consultant with Richard Quinn and Associates and also served as a spokesman for the South Carolina Republican Party when McMaster served as its chairman.

The Clemson University graduate also worked on a congressional campaign and was a field coordinator for the state GOP.

But it’s Plowden’s time and experience as a spokesman for the state’s top prosecutor — and the rapport he developed with the state’s reporters — that Templeton said will serve her 3,600-employee agency well.

“DHEC has gotten so beaten up in the press that, after a while, they just stopped talking to the press,” Templeton said. “I like that he deals with serious business. DHEC deals with serious business.”

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McMaster, who worked with Plowden for a decade at the GOP and the attorney general’s office, said that his help had been indispensable in dealing with media covering complex issues, like South Carolina’s water dispute with North Carolina. McMaster sued North Carolina in 2007 to stop Charlotte suburbs from being able to pump water out of two rover basins that, he said, would mean less water for South Carolina’s residents and businesses. Both states agreed in 2010 to place limits that requests for water transfers are handled.

“He has keen legal insight into things,” said McMaster, who left office in 2011 and is now a fundraiser for the University of South Carolina. “It’s not like he’s a newcomer.”

Plowden is moving into a vacancy created last fall when longtime spokesman Thom Berry moved to another role within DHEC.