Sanford's vote keeps his seat on budget committee


Charleston County Republican Party Chairman John Steinberger was among those lobbying U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford to vote against John Boehner returning as House speaker.

After Sanford voted for Boehner, however, Steinberger said that while he disagreed with the choice, he still respected Sanford for what he did.

One reason?

Siding with Boehner meant Sanford, R-Charleston, got to keep his assignment on the House Budget Committee, a position he might have otherwise lost - other Republicans in the failed coup against Boehner were stripped of committee assignments.

"That would have been a big possibility," Steinberger said of any Sanford misstep.

Steinberger had asked local Republicans to phone Sanford's office urging him to join the movement against Boehner.

Sanford admitted getting a "flurry" of calls but said the attempted coup against Boehner, R-Ohio, was weak from the start.

South Carolina U.S. Sen. Tim Scott will join the 10-member Republican vote-counting whip team on behalf of Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas.

Both parties in the Senate elect whips to get their votes in line.

The term "whip" comes from a fox-hunting expression - "whipper-in" - and refers to a member of the hunting team responsible for keeping the dogs from straying during a chase, according to the U.S. Senate.

State House Democrats have an ambitious list of priorities for the upcoming session, including an effort to legalize gambling on areas such as horse-racing, sports-betting and casino activities to address the state's crumbling roads.

The House Democratic Caucus' priority list is centered on its goal of "Modernizing South Carolina for the 21st century."

Among the efforts: Allowing a gaming referendum to pay for roads; legalizing medical marijuana for patients; establishing a state minimum wage of at least $10.10 an hour; and comprehensive ethics reform.

"House Republicans have spent three decades digging a very deep hole with their negligence and extreme ideology," House Democratic Leader Todd Rutherford of Columbia said. "Now it's time for them to stop digging. We must try something new, and we must do it quickly."

The Charleston GOP on Monday will be honoring two early figures of the modern Republican Party in the region, former congressman Tommy Hartnett of Mount Pleasant and former State Transportation Secretary H.B. "Buck" Limehouse Jr.

"We recently mourned the passing of Gov. Jim Edwards, who became the first Republican elected governor of South Carolina since Reconstruction in 1974. We will hear from two of the Republican pioneers who worked shoulder-to-shoulder with Gov. Edwards to build the Republican Party in South Carolina," the GOP message said.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at North Charleston City Hall, 2500 City Hall Lane.

Come Monday, the Legislative Audit Council will have Earle Powell as its new chief, replacing Director Perry Simpson who is retiring.

The Legislative Audit Council plays a key role in the General Assembly by performing independent audits of the state's agency. Most recently, Simpson oversaw an audit published in October of the Department of Social Services, which thrust the embattled agency to the forefront of the gubernatorial election.

Both Democratic Sen. Vincent Sheheen and independent Tom Ervin used information from the audit to take jabs at Gov. Nikki Haley in the weeks leading up to the election.

The audit found the agency had failed to implement changes the LAC had recommended nearly 30 years ago.

Former United Nations ambassador and civil rights leader Andrew Young will be the featured speaker at the University of South Carolina's Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration breakfast Jan. 14.

Young, former Atlanta mayor, congressman and U.S. ambassador to the U.N., will speak at the annual MLK breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Jan. 14 in the Russell House Ballroom.

Palmetto Politics is assembled by The Post and Courier political staff, including Schuyler Kropf and Cynthia Roldan.