COLUMBIA — Gov. Henry McMaster donated $315,000 from the $1 million he raised for his January inauguration to an animal shelter, a sexual crimes recovery center, veterans' groups and a nonprofit that improves the Governor's Mansion, his campaign announced Thursday.
Unlike political campaigns, donations to gubernatorial inaugurations have no caps. McMaster, who defeated Democrat state Rep. James Smith to win his first full term in office in 2018, received major donations from nearly 80 businesses, trade groups and individuals.
The governor gave more than half of the leftover inauguration money — $180,000, to the Governor’s Mansion Foundation, McMaster senior adviser Tim Pearson said.
The foundation says it raises money to buy "authentic and appropriate period" furniture and fixtures, and restore and preserve the mansion complex. Some of the money could be used for landscaping and other grounds work, Pearson said.
Other recipients included:
- Big Red Barn Retreat of Blythewood, which will use $50,000 to offer stress therapy services for active-duty and veteran service members.
- Pawmetto Lifeline of Columbia, which has $50,000 for families who cannot afford medical services for their pets and various medical needs for animals in the shelter. First lady Peggy McMaster is on the shelter's board.
- Dorn Veterans Administration Medical Center Fischer House in Columbia, which will get $25,000 to build temporary lodging for veterans and their families getting treatment at the hospital.
- Jasmine Road of Greenville, which will use $10,000 to provide mental health care for five women who were victims of human trafficking or prostitution.
A bulk of the inauguration money raised, $815,000, came from corporate donors. The remainder was generated from ticket sales to the inaugural ball, Pearson said.
Eleven companies and trade groups donated the highest gift level that the inaugural committee offered at $25,000: insurers AFLAC and BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina; cigarette maker Altria; aircraft maker Boeing; nursing-home manager HMR Veterans Services; aluminum producer Century Aluminum; steel producer Nucor; cable operator Charter Communications; trade groups, S.C. Hospital Association and Wine & Spirits Wholesalers Association of S.C.; and Florida power giant NextEra Energy.
NextEra is interested in buying state-run Santee Cooper. Other potential Santee Cooper suitors — Virginia’s Dominion Energy and North Carolina’s Duke Energy — each kicked in $15,000 to McMaster’s inauguration.
McMaster inauguration sponsors included 16 health care-related and insurance firms ($190,000 total), nine statewide industry trade groups ($100,000), seven law firms ($65,000) and four tiremakers ($35,000).
Automakers Daimler North America and BMW, both of which have Palmetto State plants, combined to give $25,000, while payday lenders, Advance America and TitleMax, donated $20,000.
The State Ports Authority, whose board once included McMaster and whose chairman Bill Stern led the governor’s inaugural committee, chipped in $5,000.
Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper, who is building a team practice and headquarters facility in Rock Hill with the help of $115 million in state tax breaks, was an honorary co-chairman of McMaster’s inaugural committee, but did not donate money to the event. Tepper did contribute $1,000 to McMaster's governor campaign.