Home / POLITICS / Palmetto Politics: Electric utilities boosted S.C. lawmakers and some of their portfolios | Palmetto Politics

Palmetto Politics: Electric utilities boosted S.C. lawmakers and some of their portfolios | Palmetto Politics

South Carolina’s members of Congress moved legislation last month that would extend a federal tax credit deadline for two proposed nuclear power projects in South Carolina and neighboring Georgia.

The bill was pitched as a lifeline for the investments at the Vogtle plant in Georgia and the V.C. Summer plant near Jenkinsville that are billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule.

SCANA Corp. and Southern Company — the two utilities overseeing the massive undertakings at those plants — aren’t the only ones that could benefit from the bill.

Federal financial disclosure documents show Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn and Republican Mark Sanford are stockholders with the corporations, which are the only utilities building nuclear power in the United States.

The documents show Clyburn owns between $15,000 and $50,000 worth of shares in SCANA, the parent company of South Carolina Electric & Gas.

Sanford owns between $1,000 and $15,000 worth of shares in Southern, which is building the Vogtle plant just across the state border.

They won’t be the only South Carolina lawmakers with a financial interest in the utilities now that Republican Ralph Norman joined them in Congress.

Norman, who won the June special election to replace Mick Mulvaney in South Carolina’s 5th District, also owns between $15,000 and $50,000 worth of shares in SCANA. (He was not able to vote on the tax credit bill.)

The pro-nuclear utilities have also been huge donors to all of South Carolina’s U.S. House and Senate members since the lead up to 2005, when Congress passed the initial nuclear tax credits that would only apply if the power plants were completed by 2020.

Since 2003, Clyburn, the state’s only Democratic member of Congress, has netted $52,500 from SCANA, and another $45,500 from two political action committees set up by Southern.

The companies also sent $62,500 to the BRIDGE PAC, a congressional leadership PAC that is associated with Clyburn and managed by his brother. 

South Carolina’s congressional Republicans fared well, too. Rep. Joe Wilson received $50,500 from the two companies since 2003. Rep. Jeff Duncan’s campaign account benefited from $41,000 from SCANA since 2010. Sanford got $9,000 between 2013 and 2015. Trey Gowdy got $20,000 since 2010. 

Myrtle Beach GOP Rep. Tom Rice, who sponsored the new tax credit bill, has netted $33,000 from the utilities for his elections since 2012 when he was first elected.

The utilities also contributed a combined $92,750 to Republican Sens. Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham since 2010 and another $47,500 to the Fund for America’s Future, a congressional leadership PAC affiliated with Graham, South Carolina’s senior senator. 

SCANA has also poured more than $176,000 into the Republican, Democratic and Legislative Black caucuses in the South Carolina Legislature, which passed a bill in 2007 that was responsible for allowing the utility to start the V.C. Summer project and pushed the risk of that project off onto electric customers.

The House bill must still be passed by the Senate.

Alan Wilson not pursuing Pentagon job

Word has been going around Columbia that state Attorney General Alan Wilson was gunning for Secretary of the Army with hopes of joining other South Carolina politicos in the Trump administration.

It’s not far-fetched.

Wilson is a colonel in the S.C. National Guard who served in Iraq. His father, U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, is a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

Well, the AG tells Palmetto Politics he’s staying home.

“I had some friends in Washington, D.C., encourage me to pursue that position,” he said. “I was flattered, but I am eager to run again for attorney general.”

No one has opened an active campaign account to run next year against the state’s two-term legal chief.

That situation could change based on Wilson’s ties to political consultant Richard Quinn, whose office was raided by state authorities as part of the Statehouse corruption probe.

C of C grad earns $95,000 in the White House

A 2013 College of Charleston grad has parlayed her work in the Donald Trump presidential transition into a top-paying job in the White House.

According to White House salary data released last week, Madeline Westerhout, 26, is making $95,000 a year as special assistant and executive assistant to the president.

Westerhout graduated from the college with a degree in political science. She previously was a political intern for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign.

Westerhout moved to Washington after graduation to intern for former Rep. John Campbell, R-Calif., before taking a full-time position with the Republican National Committee.

Her role at the RNC led her to work with Trump’s transition team. She was seen assisting guests of the president-elect as they made their way from the lobby of Trump Tower in New York when potential administration members were being interviewed.

Andrew Brown, Andy Shain and Schuyler Kropf contributed. 

Reach Schuyler Kropf on politics at 843-937-5551. Follow on Twitter at @skropf47.

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