Henry McMaster is the Governor of South Carolina. He succeeded his predecessor Governor Nikki Haley when she resigned for the purpose of becoming the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. However, he has since won a full term of his own. Currently, McMaster is one of the governors dealing with the protests sparked by the brutal killing of George Floyd, with the result that he has sided with President Donald Trump against the protestors.
1. Born in Columbia, SC
McMaster was born in Columbia, which is the capital of the state of South Carolina. The name is a reference to the female personification of the Americas, who went on to become a personification of the United States of America. Having said that, Columbia sees little use in the present time because she was replaced by Lady Liberty in the early 20th century.
2. Studied At the University of South Carolina
For his education, McMaster went to the University of South Carolina, which is the flagship school of the University of South Carolina System. Its main campus is situated in Columbia, SC. However, it has a number of satellite campuses situated elsewhere. Initially, McMaster earned a Bachelor of Arts in history. After which, he earned a Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law.
3. Created Operation Jackpot
In 1981, McMaster became the U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina. During his tenure, he created Operation Jackpot, which was a task force meant to investigate South Carolina marijuana smugglers. From 1983 to 1986, the task force managed to capture and convict more than 100 marijuana smugglers using various means, which included the federal civil forfeiture laws that were still very new in those times. It is interesting to note that McMaster’s Operation Jackpot came under criticism for being very political in nature, not least because he conducted numerous interviews as well as press conferences to make his name known to the members of the public.
4. Appointed to the South Carolina Ports Authority
McMaster came third in the Republican primary for the 2010 gubernatorial election in South Carolina. However, he made an immediate choice to support Nikki Haley, which presumably contributed to her choice to appoint him to the South Carolina Ports Authority when she went on to win the election. Suffice to say that the latter handles a lot of international commerce, meaning that it plays an important role in the state’s economy. Something that in turn, makes it a position of some influence.
5. Violated Campaign Finance Laws in 2010
Speaking of which, McMaster violated campaign finance laws in 2010. In short, he accepted about $70,000 in campaign donations, which exceeded the state’s legal limit by $51,850. Apparently, McMaster did so because he needed to settle his campaign debt. In any case, he was eventually ordered to pay a $5,100 fine as well as repay $72,700 in excessive campaign contributions by the Ethics Commission of South Carolina.
6. Last Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina Elected on a Separate Ticket
In 2014, McMaster made the choice to run for the position of the Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina. He won, with the result that he is the last person to be elected the Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina on a separate ticket. This is because that was the last time that said election was conducted in said manner. Since that time, Governors and Lieutenant Governors run on the same ticket in South Carolina.
7. Early Supporter of Donald Trump
People with an interest in politics might remember that there were a lot of Republicans who didn’t take Donald Trump very seriously until he emerged as the Republican nominee for the 2016 presidential election. However, there were some Republicans who voiced their support of him much earlier than that, with McMaster being an excellent example. In fact, he has claimed that he was the first elected official in the United States to throw his support behind Trump. Whether true or not, McMaster was the one who delivered the nominating speech at the Republican National Convention, which suggests that his support was very much noticed.
8. Vetoed a Gas Tax Increase
One of McMaster’s earliest acts as the Governor of South Carolina was to veto a 12-cent increase on the state’s gas tax, which would have raised funds for repairing roads, replacing school buses, and covering other important expenditures. McMaster vetoed it, with the result that his veto was overriden by the South Carolina General Assembly the very next day. As for why he vetoed the gas tax increase, he said that the South Carolina had the money to cover all of the roads if they just did the roads that needed the work.
9. Has Reopened Much of His State
McMaster’s response to the COVID-19 crisis wasn’t particularly unusual compared to that of his counterparts. In short, he declared a state of emergency, which was followed by what was pretty much a stay-at-home order under a different name. Currently, McMaster has already reopened much of his state. However, schools remain closed. Furthermore, businesses are still required to follow social distancing guidelines, meaning that things are still very far from having returned to normal.
10. Claimed that Some Protestors Are Being Paid to Protest
Very recently, there was a phone call between President Trump and U.S. governors. Some of McMaster’s comments have raised eyebrows. For example, he has echoed Trump’s recent statement that law enforcement needs to “dominate” protestors. Likewise, he has claimed that some people are being paid to protest, which is supposedly based on anecdotes from private conversations. On the whole, it seems safe to say that McMaster supports Trump rather than the protestors, particularly since he has been very eager to put the South Carolina National Guard at Trump’s disposal. Something that was true when Trump called for soldiers to be stationed at the U.S.-Mexico border as well.