Sen. Shane Massey elected by Republicans as new Senate Majority Leader

Senate Majority Leader Shaney Massey, R-Edgefield, has called for the resignation of Rep. Chris Corley, who recently was indicted on domestic violence and gun charges. File

COLUMBIA — The Senate’s new majority leader said Wednesday that ethics reform will be one of the chamber’s top priorities.

Sen. Shane Massey, R-Edgefield, was elected in a Republican caucus meeting that lasted fewer than 60 seconds. There was no opposition. The vote was taken just after the caucus met for lunch in a closed-door meeting.

Massey said he was ready to be the younger face of the caucus and to lead on conservative issues.

“I don’t come into the job thinking it’s going to be easy,” he said. “No rose-colored glasses here. It’s a tough job. But we’ve got some real issues that we’ve got to address in this state.”

Massey, 40, was elected in 2006 and is the chamber’s third-youngest senator. He is an attorney and is appointed to five Senate panels, including the powerful Judiciary Committee. He called ethics reform one of the caucus’ top priorities.

“If we’re going to move forward with conservative solutions to address real concerns that people have, we have to reform our state ethics laws,” Massey said. “We have to give the public more confidence in their elected officials.”

A bill that seeks to have potential misdeeds by lawmakers investigated by an outside panel, and requires they disclose their income, is pending in the Senate in a priority debate slot.

Massey has also previously clashed with the Senate’s leader, President Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence. He was one of two senators who voted against Leatherman becoming Senate leader in 2014, arguing that it was too much power concentrated in one lawmaker. Leatherman is also the Senate Finance Chairman.

Massey was among at least three senators who were vying for the position of majority leader after Sen. Harvey Peeler, R-Gaffney announced Tuesday he was stepping down after 11 years. Prosperity’s Sen. Ronnie Cromer and Charleston Sen. Larry Grooms were vying for the post, as well.

“Massey has proven that he is a consensus builder,” Groom said after the vote. “We’ve worked closely together on a number of issues and we’ll continue to do so.”

Reach Cynthia Roldan at 843-708-5891.