Get To Know Governor McMaster

Get To Know Governor McMaster

Let me confess at the outset, I’ve known Henry McMaster for 30-years and he is a friend. So, when he was sworn in as Governor I was delighted. Nevertheless, please know that nothing you read here was written in consultation with him or his office.

Henry McMaster Speaking At The 2010 South Carolina Gubernatorial Debate Hosted By Palmetto Family.

When Nikki Haley handed off the Governorship to Henry McMaster last week, I was sadly nowhere near the Statehouse. I had checked in at the Capitol earlier in the day to monitor some legislation for Palmetto Family Council, but that evening I was holed up working on a chapter on South Carolina Evangelicals in the 2016 election for the forthcoming new edition of God at the Grassroots. (This is a shameless plug.)

When the alert appeared on my phone and I saw the McMaster family there with Governor Haley and Rev. Dr. Derek Thomas (who offered a marvelous prayer) I was immediately struck by a question: how well do the friends and donors of Palmetto Family know our new Governor?

So, with no one responsible for these thoughts but myself, here are Seven Things you should know about our new Governor, Henry McMaster.

  1. Henry McMaster’s family has a heritage of standing up for Biblical orthodoxy. Palmetto Family issued a report two-weeks ago on the consequences of liberal national churches attempting to take property from local conservative churches. That post was about Lowcountry Anglicans, but this threat faces other churches as well.

In the early 1980s, when the old Southern Presbyterian church, the PCUS, merged with the Northern church to form the PCUSA, a number of South Carolina Churches were concerned that, with the passage for time, Southern churches would succumb to a liberal theological drift from the North. (They turned out to be right.) To head this off, a number of South Carolina Presbyterian churches chose to depart and affiliate with more conservative reformed denominations. Henry McMaster’s father, John Gregg McMaster, was one of those prescient souls who knew what was a stake. One of the state’s most eminent attorneys, he was a key leader in the successful effort to move First Presbyterian Church Columbia to the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. “John Gregg” (as he was known) was relentless in his belief that sound theology was at stake and FPC needed to take a stand. That’s the kind of blood that flows in Henry McMaster’s veins.

  1. Henry McMaster has a history of acting as a winsome but strong fiscal and social conservative. As state Republican party chairman, Attorney General and Lieutenant Governor, McMaster took on the disposition of his hero and friend Jack Kemp whose state campaign he chaired in 1988 (I was one of the vice chairmen). McMaster has a sunny outlook that is positively Reaganesque, but that in no way compromises his willingness to do what’s right. As our Attorney General, he stood up for traditional marriage as well as victims of domestic violence. He also courageously took on Craigslist when it broke the law and was used for sex trafficking and prostitution. Under Henry McMaster, his office released opinions in support of life, a privately sponsored Christian DMV license plate and against twisting our laws to expand gambling without a vote of the legislature.
  1. Henry McMaster had the good fortune of marrying extremely well.mcmasterfamily For those who know Peggy, there is a strong consensus that an equally valuable feature of a McMaster administration is having Peggy McMaster in the Governor’s Mansion. Reared in Spartanburg at First Baptist Church, the former Peggy McAbee not only exudes the sense of grace we want in a First Lady, she has lived out both her religious faith and commitment to free enterprise by serving as leader of the Women of the Church in her congregation and founding and managing several successful businesses. Peggy will take hospitality to a new level we are quite sure, that is effortless for her. But she will also provide the Governor with sound fiscal and spiritual advice on a daily basis.
  1. Henry McMaster has had a lifelong fascination with time management and leadership. Those of us who have been active in public life at some level will remember McMaster’s famous three dicta for effective management: “Aim high. Write it down. Do it now.” Those who have heard his famous talk on these themes know of their transformative effect. Our new Governor is also a fan of the book that stole some of his ideas, Eat That Frog! and is near obsessive about getting things done. This expertise will be essential for working with the General Assembly, who at times in the past might have been operating under the guiding principles of “Aim low. Make it temporary. Do it later.”
  1. Henry McMaster has a sincere interest in people. McMaster can read a room and read people. He has a marvelous sense of humor and loves a good prank. (I’ll spare you the examples of the pranks for now.) He is never the type to look past a person at a public event to see if there is someone more important to speak to. If you are a South Carolinian, that’s VIP enough. He is comfortable in his own skin and wants you to be comfortable.
  1. Henry McMaster is a voracious reader and student of policy. McMaster was a history major at Carolina and has a deep knowledge of American and Military History. He also is a strong grammarian, protecting the King’s English from horrible modern catastrophes. McMaster was a member of the board of the SC Policy Council Education Foundation during its halcyon days under Ed McMullen’s leadership and served ably on the board of the SC Commission on Higher Education where he advocated high academic standards and spending accountability.
  1. Henry McMaster is a citizen of South Carolina.headshot_mcmaster_2 While some of our former Governors may have kept one eye on the state and another on the national stage, Henry McMaster’s country, the land of his citizenship…is South Carolina. Henry loves America for sure, but his highest ambition was realized the day he took the oath as Governor. Our problems are his problems and he won’t run from them. He can’t. Well, at least not without a passport to leave the state.

Congratulations Governor McMaster! We look forward to working with you.

Oran Smith

Oran Smith

Born and raised in the beautiful Upstate of South Carolina, Oran Smith has developed a reputation as a trusted adviser and advocate for solution-driven policy during his many years of service in the Palmetto state.
Oran Smith

Court Candidate Worked For Liberal National Episcopal Church, Against Conservative South Carolina Bishop

Court Candidate Worked For Liberal National Episcopal Church, Against Conservative South Carolina Bishop

In South Carolina, candidates for state judgeships are screened by a Judicial Merit Selection Commission before being sent to the General Assembly for election. Normally, this is a pro-forma affair with little said that raises an eyebrow.

That wasn’t the case on November 16, 2016. It was on that day the Commission interviewed those seeking a seat on the state’s second highest court, the South Carolina Court of Appeals. One of the candidates for that bench, attorney Blake Hewitt, was asked about what he considered the highlights of his legal career. This was his response in part:

“I am proud of the work I did in the Diocese of South Carolina case, the Episcopal Church case – which is still pending, and I may lose 5-0 — that was very challenging litigation.”

When a member of the panel was so dumbfounded at Hewitt’s response he asked the question a second time, Hewitt repeated the statement:

“I’m proud of the work I did in Episcopal Diocese case, regardless of how it comes out, because I got the opportunity to argue a really important case, a case with constitutional questions, which every lawyer gets excited about.”


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That statement might not mean much if you don’t live in the 843 area code or aren’t Episcopalian. But the litigation Hewitt references may be the most significant fight for both orthodox Christianity and property rights South Carolina has seen. And Hewitt was on the wrong side.

Here’s the short version of the Episcopal Church story in South Carolina: the lower part of South Carolina (from roughly Orangeburg to the coast) in Anglican world is known as The Diocese of South Carolina. It is led by Bishop Mark Lawrence. As the national Episcopal Church (TEC) began to abandon the clear teachings of scripture on a number of matters, the Diocese separated from TEC in 2012. The liberal TEC then asserted its right to the $500 million in church property held by The Diocese of South Carolina or its parishes including the historic St. Philips Church and beautiful St. Christopher Camp. One problem for TEC’s legal case is the Diocese of South Carolina predates TEC. The Diocese was already existing when The Episcopal Church was established in America in 1789. A South Carolina Circuit Court agreed, ruling in favor of the Diocese of South Carolina in February, 2015. TEC appealed to the SC Supreme Court and a ruling from the high court is expected this year.

Our View: The word on the street is Blake Hewitt may be a fine appellate lawyer. But it is our sincere belief that placing an attorney on the bench who sided with the theologically liberal national Episcopal Church against the theologically conservative (Episcopal) Diocese of South Carolina in direct violation of the Diocese’s religious liberty rights and property rights is dangerous, particularly as religious freedom is frequently being contested in the courts.

Go Deeper: 
More on TEC’s Attempts to Seize Property from Theological Conservatives

Under uber liberal national Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Shori, TEC has been seizing property all over the country from conservative congregations who voted to leave TEC. The most famous case is the historic Falls Church in Falls Church, VA where George Washington was a member of the vestry. The conservative congregation voted to leave TEC and offered to buy the multimillion dollar property from the national church but was turned down. The parish lost the case and after 230 years, the congregation was forced out of their building.

Perhaps the worst example is from Binghamton, New York where the Church of the Good Shepherd was denied the right to purchase its building only to see TEC sell the building to a mosque.

TEC has filed at least 80 lawsuits seeking to take the property of individual parishes and dioceses that left TEC to the tune of $22 million in legal fees.

Oran Smith

Oran Smith

Born and raised in the beautiful Upstate of South Carolina, Oran Smith has developed a reputation as a trusted adviser and advocate for solution-driven policy during his many years of service in the Palmetto state.
Oran Smith

Finally, Election Day Arrives

Finally, Election Day Arrives

Because Palmetto Family works every day in “public policy world” — keeping our eyes open for opportunities to fight for faith, family and freedom in government, church and culture — we have been contacted every day about the 2016 Election. As has been said of the American Presidency, it is a “glorious burden.”

But the real burden is the IRS. Because we are a 501c3 non-profit, we can’t do any lobbying or “electioneering.” Even our Palmetto Family Alliance, which can lobby and hold politicians accountable, can’t endorse specific candidates!

So, under the stern gaze of Uncle Sam, what advice or even thoughts may I legally provide to you to get ready for tomorrow?

Here are seven (7) points to ponder in no particular order:

  1. If you profess Christ, you should vote. In South Carolina we have what is known as a “long ballot.” My ballot will have fifteen (15) offices, including Soil & Water Commissioner! The ballot will be even longer in 2018 when statewide offices from Governor to Commissioner of Agriculture are included. (I almost typed Adjutant General of the National Guard, but that office will be appointed for the first time and not on the ballot in November, 2018.)

I mention this host of candidates because our duty of Christian citizenship isn’t voided by a poor choice for one or two of those offices. We suggest you watch this video about the duty to vote as an act of Christian citizenship.

  1. Party (and ideological) control of The White House and the US Senate are on the line. At least as important as being chief legislator, Presidents nominate justices for the US Supreme Court and run agencies that regulate and tax. The impact of a President on the church, religious freedom, life, education, and federalism cannot be overestimated.

The US Senate is clearly on the line as well, including the seat on the ballot in South Carolina currently held by Tim Scott. (In the interest of full disclosure, Tim Scott served on the founding board of Palmetto Family Council.)

Political parties are not in the Bible. They are not even in the Constitution. But the parties are farther apart than they have ever been ideologically. To get an idea of what each party wrote as a “to do” list in the form of their party platforms, this analysis will give you an idea.

  1. In South Carolina, there will be competitive races. Most of the heated campaigns in SC in 2016 are at the local level—Sheriff, Clerk of Court, Coroner—and that will be in only a few counties. Again, the office of Governor is not on the ballot until 2018.

In the SC Senate of 46 seats, only about five are truly competitive. Those are Susan Brill (R) vs Mia McLeod (D) (parts of Richland/Kershaw Counties), Floyd Nicholson (D) vs. Bryan Hope (R) (parts of Greenwood, Abbeville, McCormick & Saluda Counties), Mark Palmer (R) vs. Michael Fanning (D) (parts of Fairfield, Chester and York Counties), Glenn Reese (D) vs. Cornelius Huff (R) (part of Spartanburg County), and Nikki Setzler (D) vs. Brad Lindsey (R) (parts of Lexington, Aiken, Calhoun and Saluda Counties). Republicans (well, those who call themselves Republicans) currently control the upper chamber 28-18.

In the SC House, of 124 seats, about 5 could be close: Rick Martin (R) vs. Carlton Kinard (D) in Newberry County, Mike Anthony (D) vs. Tommy Mann (R) in Union and Laurens Counties, Richie Yow (R) vs. Victor Li (D) in Lancaster and Chesterfield Counties, Kirkman Finlay (R) vs. Tyler Gregg (D) in Richland County, and Leon Stavrinakis (D) vs. Lee Edwards (R) in Charleston County. Republicans control the SC House 78-46.

  1. It is important that you know your registration status and where to vote. You can find your polling place, see a sample ballot, and check your voter registration by clicking here.
  1. Remember that the Lord is with us. Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the LORD. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the LORD. Work, for I am with you, declares the LORD of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. For thus says the LORD of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts. —-Haggai 2:3-9.
  1. Know that the Lord is in control. Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. —-Hebrews 2:8-9.
  1. Take time to go deeper if you can:

God is King No Matter What can be found here.

Our Hope is Not in this Election is here.

Read Christians Not Obligated to Vote here.

See Christians Must Vote here.

The Winnowing of Christianity addresses an important issue here.

Franklin Graham’s take can be found here.

Graham will be hosting a prayer time on Facebook tonight at 9:00 pm EST here.

You can read an article from Max Lucado here.

Oran Smith

Oran Smith

Born and raised in the beautiful Upstate of South Carolina, Oran Smith has developed a reputation as a trusted adviser and advocate for solution-driven policy during his many years of service in the Palmetto state.
Oran Smith

Breaking News: Prayer Wins Again!

Breaking News: Prayer Wins Again!

There are some organizations in this country that can’t bear the thought that someone is praying in a public meeting. Among these are the ACLU, the American  Humanist Association, the Freedom From Religion Foundation and my favorite In Reason We Trust. It isn’t a slur or political rhetoric to say that these groups want to stamp out prayer. They really do!

In former years the targets have been the City of Woodruff, Spartanburg County, the City of Aiken, the Town of Great Falls, the Savannah River Site and the Lexington-Richland School District 5 school board.

Several of these complaints were rolled into the Forsyth case which was in turn made a part of the Town of Greece case that made it all the way to the US Supreme Court. In a landmark decision, SCOTUS ruled for us.

The Town of Greece decision was so strong that the SC General Assembly ensconced its core principles into our state statutes earlier this year at our request.

But the seculars are relentless.

In recent months they have come after the Berkeley County School Board, the Pickens County School Board and over the border the Rowan County (NC) Commission in the atheist crosshairs.

So far,  Pickens and Berkeley are moving in the right direction and have avoided court, but Rowan has had to fight. After losing at the district level last year, a three judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (Richmond) ruled today in favor of Rowan County’s right to open their meetings with a prayer that may at times be lifted…hold onto your hat…in the name of Jesus.

As the lead organization that worked for two versions of the SC Public Invocations Act (2008 and 2016), our position is simple: so long as the ones praying are official chaplains or are selected on a rotation, let them pray according to their own consciences.

The courts are starting to agree.

Just one more thing. The ACLU et al. need to get off their high horses about history. To hear them tell it, the Founding Fathers to a man believed in a Blind Watchmaker and got their knickers in a wad if someone said Jesus on public soil. Please. Even moderate narrative historians like Joe Meacham debunk such notions.

If you know of other instances where the freedom to pray is being threatened, please let us know. And if you live in Berkeley or Pickens Counties, be sure to sign up to receive our Calls to Action. We may have work to do if the ACLU fax keeps shooting from the hip.

Oran Smith

Oran Smith

Born and raised in the beautiful Upstate of South Carolina, Oran Smith has developed a reputation as a trusted adviser and advocate for solution-driven policy during his many years of service in the Palmetto state.
Oran Smith

Planned Parenthood Committee Fireworks Distract from Burning Questions

Planned Parenthood Committee Fireworks Distract from Burning Questions

Last Tuesday morning in Columbia, the Committee investigating the relationship between the State of South Carolina and Planned Parenthood meet for the fourth time.

Until that meeting, passion was, well, non-existent. All that went out the door on Tuesday. Democratic Representatives James Smith, Walton McLeod and Mia McLeod, utilizing the shooting at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs the week before, aggressively went after the very legitimacy of the panel.

Republican Rep. Tommy Stringer defended the establishment of the Committee, reminding those present of the lengthy Legislative Audit Committee (LAC) report criticizing DHEC’s oversight of abortion clinics in the state, a proper undertaking for an Oversight Committee.

As we have said, the tenor of the SC Committee is very different from its counterpart in DC. “Reluctant” is how we earlier described our state investigation.  A local Columbia blogger was even more critical, calling the proceedings only “paying lip-service to the pro-life movement.”

So what is the truth? How has the committee known as Other Study Committee #1 performed?

Here’s our take.

Other Study Committee #1 was charged with studying state agencies’ relationship with, funding of, and other activities relating to Planned Parenthood facilities and other abortion providers in South Carolina. Unfortunately, the Committee was not specifically charged with studying Planned Parenthood or other abortion providers.

Factual Questions Answered

On the positive side, the Committee has gotten answers to a number of questions those of us in the pro-life community have been asking for a decade:

  • How many abortions are taxpayers footing the bill for each year?
  • What did those abortions cost us?
  • Where are the abortions being performed?
  • Are the abortions compliant with the pro-life federal Hyde Amendment in regard to limiting them to cases of rape, incest and life of the mother?
  • What exact medical condition in each terminated pregnancy at taxpayer expense threatened the mother’s life?
  • What other services are being provided by Planned Parenthood and similar organizations beside abortions?
  • How much did the state pay PP et al. for those other services?
  • How many taxpayer paid abortions were performed on minors?
  • How many minors are obtaining abortions due to the “judicial bypass” that allows court approval to substitute for parental permission?
  • Is the Department of Corrections running a taxi service to PP and paying for inmate abortions?
  • After the Legislative Audit Council (LAC) published its concerns about DHEC’s regulation of abortion clinics, what did DHEC do to improve their oversight in those areas?
  • What did PP and other abortion clinics do to comply with the law and DHEC regulations in the wake of violations uncovered in fresh DHEC inspections ordered by Governor Nikki Haley?
  • Did an abortion identified by DHHS that was performed due to the health of the unborn child violate the Hyde Amendment and therefore federal and state law?
  • Are hospitals prepared to code abortion complications accurately when patients show up at Emergency Rooms after abortions performed in PP et al clinics? What reports have there been of postoperative abortion complications?
  • What does an abortion clinic inspection cost, where do the funds go, is the inspection funding sufficient, and how is an abortion clinic classified for inspection purposes?
  • What instructions are provided to a patient in regard to complications that might arise after a surgical abortion procedure? What instructions are provided after a chemical abortion procedure?
  • What penalties were imposed by DHEC and paid by abortion clinics for violation of state laws or clinic regulations?
  • What is the nature of the Communication, Funding and Activity of state agencies in regard to Planned Parenthood?
  • Have any state dollars paid to Planned Parenthood been used for pregnancy prevention or comprehensive health education instruction?
  • How can Planned Parenthood be legally defunded in South Carolina? (This question was partially answered by Director Soura of SC DHHS.

Inconvenient Legislative Questions Raised

Based on these facts, Other Study Committee #1 has somewhat inadvertently presented several questions to the legislature. These are the crucial but inconvenient questions for elected officials when they return to the Statehouse in January:

  1. Should an abortion be performed using taxpayer funds for any reason in South Carolina? The 2011-2015 taxpayer funded abortion figure uncovered by the Other Study Committee #1 could have been zero rather than 29.
  1. Should the state budget allow non-abortion funding for Planned Parenthood in South Carolina? That figure could also have been $0 rather than $297,904.

Essential Committee Questions Remaining

So what questions remain unanswered by Other Study Committee #1? While not a part of the official charge to the Committee, the need to find answers to these concerns was clear in the letters from legislators, which were based on documented cases of problems at Planned Parenthood clinics around the country:

  1. Have state agencies investigated whether Planned Parenthood and like organizations have conducted illegal or unethical activities of the kind shown in the video series by the Center for Medical Progress in South Carolina? What steps can be taken by the General Assembly or state agencies to insure this does not happen in South Carolina?
  1. Have state agencies investigated whether PP has failed to report sexual abuse of minors (as alleged/found in civil and criminal cases recently filed in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Minnesota and Ohio) in South Carolina? What steps can be taken by the General Assembly or state agencies to insure this does not happen in South Carolina?
  1. Have state agencies investigated whether PP has engaged in fraudulent Medicaid practices* in South Carolina as alleged/found in other states? What steps can be taken by the General Assembly, DHEC, DHHS or the Attorney General to insure that Medicaid or other financial fraud does not occur in South Carolina?

*Note: Documented fraudulent practices have included contraceptive overprescription, contraceptive overpriced billing, dispensing contraceptives without medical authorization, miscoding claims to maximize revenues, and comingling funds from the reproductive health services or comprehensive health education side to the abortion side of the business.

  1. Are the regulatory and compliance procedure changes made at DHEC and at PP in the wake of the LAC report and the Governor Haley-ordered new inspections sufficient for state law and regulations to be followed consistently*?” If not, what steps can be taken by the General Assembly or state agencies to insure this does not happen again in South Carolina in the future? Could the necessary oversight and compliance be insured through legislation, revised clinic regulations, or some other method?”

*Note: The LAC audit of DHEC found a host of problems in the following areas: clinic inspections (in 6 categories), complaint process, standard operating procedures, staffing & training, website accessibility, Woman’s Right to Know Act, and use of ultrasounds. The Audit found no problems only in relation to inspection fees. The LAC audit itself made recommendations for legislation requiring that ultrasounds be performed on women seeking abortions and for new clinic regulations in several areas to make DHEC’s job easier.

Other Study Committee #1 has not been perfect, but its deliberations and investigations have been professional and essential for an understanding of the agency charged with inspecting Planned Parenthood (DHEC), Planned Parenthood itself, and agencies that fund or interact with PP in their normal course of the people’s business.

At least four investigative questions remain unanswered by the Committee. Two questions inadvertently raised by the Committee are so fundamental they can be answered only by the General Assembly and the Governor of the State.

Stay tuned.

Oran Smith

Oran Smith

Born and raised in the beautiful Upstate of South Carolina, Oran Smith has developed a reputation as a trusted adviser and advocate for solution-driven policy during his many years of service in the Palmetto state.
Oran Smith

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