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Home GOLF $250 dog bowl, $1,000 golf ticket among Gov Henry McMaster’s gift haul

$250 dog bowl, $1,000 golf ticket among Gov Henry McMaster’s gift haul

Tom Barton, The State
Published 1:15 p.m. ET Feb. 25, 2019 | Updated 1:17 p.m. ET Feb. 25, 2019


South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster won re-election in South Carolina, defeating challenger James Smith.
The Greenville News

COLUMBIA — A $250 custom dog bowl. A 21-pound turducken. A $1,000 golf ticket and a $1,860 stationery box.

All are among the little more than $26,500 in gifts — including books, meals, flights, art and hotel accommodations — that S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster accepted during his first year as governor in 2017. Included in that gift total was about $14,000 in meals, flights and hotel stays while McMaster attended meetings of the Republican Governors Association, according to the governor’s latest annual statement of economic interests, filed with the S.C. Ethics Commission.

McMaster also reported receiving more than $4,000 in meals, accommodations and admission from public and private groups at events where the governor spoke. Nearly all were within the state.

The 71-year-old former lieutenant governor became governor in January 2017 when Nikki Haley resigned to join the Trump administration as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

McMaster won his first full term as governor in November, defeating then-state Rep. James Smith, D-Richland, after prevailing in a contentious GOP primary runoff.

McMaster’s haul pales in comparison to the gifts showered on his predecessor, Haley, who reported accepting more than $52,000 in jewelry, books, art, clothing, food, resort accommodations and more in 2015, a record for a S.C. governor. That year, Haley garnered national acclaim for her handling of the Charleston church shooting that claimed nine lives.

That same year, Haley also received an additional $77,764 for speaking engagements, which included vacations. The following year, Haley reported $189,138 in reimbursement for speaking engagements, including flights, meals and accommodations.

The value of gifts given S.C. governors has increased dramatically in recent years.

From 2007 to 2009, for example, then-S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford reported accepting only between $5,000 and $11,000 a year in gifts, and about $15,000 for speaking engagement reimbursements.

Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, received scrutiny as governor for accepting free football tickets and a suite to University of South Carolina and Clemson University football games.

After questions were raised about those gifts, the state Ethic Commission ruled USC did not violate state ethics law despite the fact the university lobbies hard for state dollars every year.

Supporters of Haley, a Clemson grad, also purchased a suite for her use at Clemson football games.

Notable gifts to McMaster included:

A $1,500 flight from investment banker Carey “Dan” Adams, who owns Greenville-based The Capital Corp. and chairs the conservative Palmetto Promise Institute think tank. McMaster spokesman Brian Symmes said the governor used the plane to fly to Washington, D.C., for a meeting at the White House. The trip was official state business, but a state-owned plane was unavailable.

A $1,860 stationery box from Japanese Consulate General Takashi Shinozuka. Japanese-owned companies have several major investments in the state.

A $1,000 PGA Tour ticket from the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism, a state agency, to attend the 2017 U.S. Open in Charlotte, “where (McMaster) also conducted official economic development business,” Symmes said.

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A $670 Hindu figurine from Sundaram America.

A $500 tartan jacket from the Heritage Classic Foundation, the general sponsor of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing golf tournament, held at Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island.

A $275 bronze bulldog from Southeastern Wildlife Exposition in Charleston. (McMaster is well known for his affinity for bulldogs.)

$250 dog bowl from Tower International, a parts supplier for BMW.

$178 of Azui Tequila liquor from Ruiz Foods.

A 21-pound turducken — a dish consisting of a deboned chicken stuffed into a deboned duck, further stuffed into a deboned turkey — from colleague and friend Will Mills. The turducken was valued at $100.

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