Santee Cooper’s August board and committee meetings scheduled for Monday were postponed by interim CEO Jim Brogdon.
In a letter sent to Gov. Henry McMaster and S.C. Senate President Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, Brogdon said the meetings were being postponed because of legal uncertainty about the interim appointment of Charles Condon as chairman of the board of Santee Cooper.
During a news conference Monday, McMaster called the postponement unlawful and said it was a further display of the failure of accountability in transparency within the company.
McMaster said he made a request Saturday for information on how the law is being applied in what the agency is doing.
Mollie Gore, corporate communications manager at Santee Cooper, said the agency is working to fulfill McMaster’s request.
Brogdon said Santee Cooper’s priority is to maintain integrity of the board’s governance and decision-making during this period.
In the letter, Brogdon said he received notice on July 23 of the appointment of Condon as interim chair. He also says he received letters from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Luke Rankin, R-Myrtle Beach, and Leatherman. Rankin’s letter said no interim appointment authority was available for the appointment. Leatherman’s letter said the appointment was illegal.
McMaster said Monday the interim appointment does not require Senate confirmation.
Brogdon’s letter also says the company was notified Aug. 7 that the Senate filed a Petition of Original Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court asking to declare the interim appointment invalid and asking the court to conduct an expedited review of the matter.
Brogdon said Santee Cooper is hopeful that action will be taken quickly, and the company is committed to rescheduling the meetings as soon as the issue is resolved.
The letter came the same day Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the company’s bond rating.
Revenue bonds for Santee Cooper, which is listed in Moody’s as the S.C. Public Service Authority, were downgraded on Friday from A1 to A2, and Santee Cooper’s bank bond rating dropped from A2 to A3. Nearly $7.4 billion of revenue bonds are expected to be affected.
“This is bad news for the people of South Carolina,” McMaster said Monday. “It’s unnecessary, illegal bad news.”
Moody’s report said the rating outlook is negative as a result of the uncertainty relating to litigation, along with political risks Santee Cooper faces.
According to the report, lack of certainty regarding the utility’s governance and further political influence on Santee Cooper operations could lead to a further downgrade.l