Henry McMaster

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Henry McMaster
Henry McMaster official photo.jpg
91st Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina
Assumed office
January 14, 2015
Governor Nikki Haley
Preceded by Yancey McGill
Attorney General of South Carolina
In office
January 15, 2003 – January 12, 2011
Governor Mark Sanford
Preceded by Charlie Condon
Succeeded by Alan Wilson
Chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party
In office
May 1994 – May 2001
Preceded by Barry Wynn
Succeeded by Katon Dawson
Personal details
Born Henry Dargan McMaster
(1947-05-27) May 27, 1947 (age 69)
Columbia, South Carolina, U.S.
Political party Republican
Alma mater University of South Carolina, Columbia (BA, JD)
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1969–1975
Unit United States Army Reserve
Battles/wars Vietnam War

Henry Dargan McMaster (born May 27, 1947) is an American politician who is the 91st and current Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina. He assumed office on January 14, 2015. He previously served as Attorney General of South Carolina from 2003 to 2011. From 1981 to 1985, McMaster served as United States Attorney, where he was best known for investigating South Carolina marijuana smugglers in Operation Jackpot. McMaster served on the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education and chaired the South Carolina Republican Party from 1993 to 2002.

McMaster will succeed to the office of Governor of South Carolina if Nikki Haley is confirmed by the United State Senate as the next Ambassador to the United Nations and subsequently resigns as governor.


McMaster was born on May 27, 1947 in Columbia, South Carolina.[1] He received a bachelor's degree in history from the University of South Carolina in 1969. As an undergraduate, he was a member of Kappa Alpha Order and the South Carolina Student Legislature. In 1973, he graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law where he served on the Editorial Board of the South Carolina Law Review. Later that year, he was admitted to the South Carolina Bar, the Richland County Bar Association. He served in the United States Army Reserves, receiving his honorable discharge in 1975.[2]

Upon graduation from law school, McMaster worked as a Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond in Washington, D.C. until 1974, when he joined the firm of Tompkins and McMaster. He was admitted to practice before the federal Court of Claims in 1974, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in 1975 and in 1978, upon motion of Senator Thurmond, the Supreme Court of the United States. For almost 29 years, McMaster practiced law, both as a federal prosecutor and in private practice, having represented clients in the state and federal courts, trial and appellate.[3]

Political career[edit]

United States Attorney[edit]

Upon the recommendation of Senator Thurmond, McMaster was nominated by President Ronald Reagan as United States Attorney for the District of South Carolina in 1981—Reagan's first nomination for U.S. Attorney. McMaster was confirmed by the Senate on May 21, 1981.[4] He headed the South Carolina Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee from 1981 to 1985.

During his tenure, McMaster created the federal drug task force Operation Jackpot to investigate South Carolina marijuana smugglers.[5] Operation Jackpot ultimately arrested more than 100 men and women for crimes related to marijuana and hashish trafficking. McMaster held numerous press conferences during the trial and earned publicity through his many interviews and comments. His actions were criticized as transparently political, with journalist Lee Bandy writing that "no one can recall any other U.S. attorney being so public-relations conscious" and noting that McMaster had produced more press conferences and news releases than all of his predecessors combined.[6]

McMaster completed his four-year term as U.S. Attorney in 1985.

Election bids, South Carolina Commission on Higher Education[edit]

In 1986, after considering races for South Carolina Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General, McMaster won a spirited primary for the Republican nomination for the United States Senate. He was defeated by incumbent Ernest Hollings. In 1990, he won another contested primary and was the Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor, losing to incumbent Nick Theodore. In 1991, he was appointed by Governor Carroll A. Campbell, Jr. and confirmed by the South Carolina Senate to serve on the state's Commission on Higher Education. He also served on the Board of Directors of the non-profit South Carolina Policy Council from 1991 through 2003, serving as board chairman from 1992 until 1993.[citation needed]

South Carolina Republican Party Chair[edit]

In 1993, McMaster was elected chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, and was subsequently re-elected by the State Republican Convention in 1996, 1998 and 2000. In this capacity, he also served as a member of the Republican National Committee from 1993 until 2002. Under McMaster's chairmanship, the Republican Party captured the Governorship, several statewide offices and (with party switches) the State House of Representatives in 1994, and finally captured control of the powerful State Senate in 2000. Under McMaster, the South Carolina GOP also ran highly contentious and successful presidential primaries in 1996 (won by Bob Dole) and 2000 (won by George W. Bush).[citation needed]

Attorney General[edit]

In 2002 McMaster ran for and was elected Attorney General. He was reelected unopposed in 2006. In 2010 he ran for Governor, but was defeated in the Republican primary, finishing third. He immediately endorsed frontrunner and eventual winner Nikki Haley.[7]

Campaign finance violation[edit]

On January 6, 2015, the Ethics Commission of South Carolina accused McMaster of accepting about $70,000 in campaign donations when he unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2010, which exceeds South Carolina's legal limit for donations by $51,850.[8] Documents released by the Ethics Commission state that McMaster accepted these extra funds to help in settling his campaign debt.[8][9] In September 2015, the Commission refused to dismiss the complaint and McMaster's attorney indicated McMaster was likely to settle.[10]

Lieutenant Governor[edit]

McMaster filed to run for Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina on March 27, 2014.[11] He received 44% of the vote in a four-way Republican Party primary and was forced into a run-off against Mike Campbell, son of former Governor Carroll A. Campbell, Jr.[12] McMaster defeated Campbell, receiving 63.6% of the vote[13] and went on to face Democratic State Representative Bakari Sellers in the general election. During the campaign, Sellers challenged McMaster to renounce his 30-year membership in Columbia's Forest Lake Country Club, a private country club alleged to exclude black members; in response, McMaster's campaign manager stated that the Club "'[had] no policies of racial discrimination,'" and added that McMaster "'would not be a member if it did.'"[7][14][15] On November 4, 2014, McMaster was elected Lieutenant Governor, defeating Sellers with 58.8% of the vote.[16]

McMaster was elected on a separate ticket than Governor Haley, the last time Lieutenant Governors will be elected in this manner. Beginning in 2018, Governors and Lieutenant Governors will run on the same ticket.[17]

Electoral history[edit]

South Carolina Attorney General Republican Primary Election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Henry McMaster 126,164 42.41
Republican Larry Richter 94,573 31.79
Republican Jon Ozmint 76,725 26.06
South Carolina Attorney General Republican Primary Runoff Election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Henry McMaster 162,014 55.81
Republican Larry Richter 128,271 44.19
South Carolina Attorney General Election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Henry McMaster 601,931 55.48
Democratic Steve Benjamin 482,560 44.48
Write-ins Write-ins 498 0.05
South Carolina Attorney General Election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Henry McMaster (inc.) 779,453 99.22
Write-ins Write-ins 6,107 0.78
South Carolina Governor Republican Primary Election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Nikki Haley 206,326 48.86
Republican Gresham Barrett 91,824 21.75
Republican Henry McMaster 71,494 16.93
Republican Andre Bauer 52,607 12.46
South Carolina Lieutenant Governor Republican Primary Election, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Henry McMaster 131,546 43.63
Republican Pat McKinney 73,451 24.36
Republican Mike Campbell 72,204 23.95
Republican Ray Moore 24,335 8.07
South Carolina Lieutenant Governor Republican Primary Runoff Election, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Henry McMaster 85,301 63.58
Republican Mike Campbell 48,863 36.42
South Carolina Lieutenant Governor Election, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Henry McMaster 726,821 58.75
Democratic Bakari Sellers 508,807 41.13
Write-ins Write-ins 1,514 0.12


  1. ^ "South Carolina Legislature Online - Member Biography: Lieutenant Governor Henry D. McMaster". www.scstatehouse.gov. South Carolina Legislative Services Agency. Retrieved November 17, 2016. 
  2. ^ http://www.scstatehouse.gov/member.php?code=1298295299
  3. ^ "Henry McMaster for Lieutenant Governor". henrymcmaster.com. 
  4. ^ Ryan, Jason (2012). Jackpot: High Times, High Seas, and the Sting That Launched the War on Drugs. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 138. ISBN 978-0-7627-6799-1. 
  5. ^ Haire, Chris (April 20, 2011). "Jason Ryan spins the tale of the Lowcountry's gentlemen dope smugglers in Jackpot". Charleston City Paper. 
  6. ^ Ryan, Jason (2012). Jackpot: High Times, High Seas, and the Sting That Launched the War on Drugs. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 260. ISBN 978-0-7627-6799-1. 
  7. ^ a b Shain, Andrew (October 26, 2014). "ELECTIONS 2014: Last race for SC lieutenant governor enters last week". The State. 
  8. ^ a b Borden, Jeremy (January 5, 2015). "New lieutenant governor faces campaign finance allegations from 2010 race". Post and Courier. 
  9. ^ "McMaster accused of taking donations above the limit". The Greenville News. January 6, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Ethics board refuses to dismiss Lt. Gov. McMaster's case". WPDE. September 16, 2015. Retrieved February 20, 2016. 
  11. ^ Shain, Andrew (March 27, 2014). "Henry McMaster, another Nikki Haley ally, running for SC lieutenant governor". The State. 
  12. ^ Self, Jamie (June 24, 2014). "McMaster bests Campbell in GOP runoff for lieutenant governor". The Island Packet. 
  13. ^ "2014 Republican and Democratic Primary Runoff". South Carolina State Election Commission. Retrieved November 17, 2016. 
  14. ^ Borden, Jeremy; Roldan, Cynthia (September 3, 2014). "Sellers urges rival to quit club he says excludes blacks". Post and Courier. 
  15. ^ http://www.thestate.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/the-buzz/article13880267.htmlRE
  16. ^ "SC - Election Results". South Carolina State Election Commission. Retrieved November 17, 2016. 
  17. ^ "AP: Henry McMaster elected lieutenant governor". live5news.com. 4 November 2014. 

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Barry Wynn
Chair of the South Carolina Republican Party
Succeeded by
Katon Dawson
Legal offices
Preceded by
Charlie Condon
Attorney General of South Carolina
Succeeded by
Alan Wilson
Political offices
Preceded by
Yancey McGill
Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina