- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 14, 2017

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The Latest on legislators vote to eliminate the Public Safety’s director’s salary as a way to oust him (all times local):

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5:15 p.m.

The director of South Carolina’s Department of Public Safety calls a House vote seeking his removal “disappointing.”

Lawmakers voted 76-20 Tuesday to eliminate the director’s position and reduce the agency’s funding. That would effectively fire Leroy Smith if the clause remains in the budget.



Democratic Rep. Russell Ott says that’s a decision for the governor.

But Republican Rep. Mike Pitts says the move represents legislators’ only recourse. The retired law enforcement officer says both former Gov. Nikki Haley and Gov. Henry McMaster have rejected calls to fire the Cabinet director.

Pitts attributes the agency’s high turnover to low morale over troopers’ fears of being fired for minor issues.

Smith said in a statement that he’s dedicated to making South Carolina a safe place, and he’s eager to continue working with legislators.

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12:30 p.m.

The House has voted to fire the director of South Carolina’s Department of Public Safety through the state budget.

Lawmakers voted 76-20 Tuesday to eliminate the director’s position and reduce the agency’s funding, effectively firing Leroy Smith.

Democratic Rep. Russell Ott says that’s a decision for the governor.

But Republican Rep. Mike Pitts says the move represents legislators’ only recourse. The retired law enforcement officer says both former Gov. Nikki Haley and Gov. Henry McMaster have rejected calls to fire the Cabinet director.

Pitts attributes the agency’s high turnover to low morale over troopers’ fears of being fired for minor issues.

Democratic Rep. Justin Bamberg says the fears are a problem, but “we can’t just beat up on Director Smith.”

A spokesman for Smith didn’t immediately return messages.

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