There’s a new watchdog at the Statehouse. South Carolina’s first independent Inspector General started work this summer to weed out government waste, fraud, and corruption. As the new South Carolina Inspector General, it’s Patrick Maley’s job to weed out waste in the Executive Branch. He relies on whistleblowers and tips from the public to investigate about 58 thousand employees and 100 state agencies, like the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Transportation, for example.

“Some people look at the Inspector General’s role as a taxpayer’s watchdog, which is certainly true and we wear that badge proudly,” Maley explained. “State employees are held to a higher standard.” John Crangle, with the government-accountability group Common Cause says the new position is a step in the right direction. “There’s a huge problem with public corruption out there,” Crangle explained. However, he thinks there should be more changes made like a stronger law to protect whistleblowers and a fixed budget for several years, to keep the office free of any immediate retaliation. “You can kick the butts of some people in this state with impunity, but you go after the wrong people, and they’ll get you,” he said.

“I have not sensed any influence, quite frankly I have felt the opposite,” explained Maley. In his first sit-down interview since starting the position this summer, Maley tells us he’s ready. “There’s a lot of skepticism about government,” he said. Maley will examine every complaint and tip about waste with a tight budget of $300 thousand dollars. That money pays for the Inspector General, two investigators and one administrator. Maley is asking for more resources more than doubling that dollar amount, to add more investigators to the team. He says he has confidence in the interest of adding more resources for independent oversight.

State Representative Dan Hamilton of Greenville County was one of the co-sponsors of the bill to create the position of Inspector General. “I believe there’s an appetite to give him the money that he needs, “Hamilton said. Maley says he’s already started several investigations, but can’t release any specifics until they wrap up in the next few months. “I personally may not find it all, but I do believe, the mere fact that there’s an entity out there that is seeking and looking and probing and prodding, creates the expectation on the leaders and managers, that it matters.”

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