COLUMBIA — Gov. Nikki Haley on Wednesday tapped a 30-year FBI veteran to be South Carolina’s inspector general, leading a new agency slated to become independent next month but for which funding is still uncertain.
Haley said she wants 53-year-old Patrick Maley to head the state agency that investigates allegations of fraud, waste and abuse in state government. The Senate must confirm her choice for a four-year term.
Maley’s experience will help make state government truly accountable to taxpayers, the Republican governor said.
“His 30 years of experience with the FBI, focusing on fraud, waste, managing costs and program evaluations will be a tremendous asset to South Carolina,” she said. “Combine that with him being a CPA and dealing with white collar crimes throughout his career.”
Maley has served as the FBI’s special agent in charge in Birmingham, Ala., since 2009. He was previously the assistant special agent in Columbia for three years, and supervisory special agent in Covington, Ky., for a decade. He was a white-collar crime case agent from 1982 to 1990, investigating bank, mortgage and securities fraud in Charlotte, N.C., Portland, Ore., Baltimore, Md., and Washington, D.C. Prior to his employment with the FBI, he was an accountant at a firm in Raleigh, N.C.
“He’s a good choice,” said State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel, who worked with Maley during his tenure in Columbia, when Keel was No. 2 at SLED. “He’s easy to work with.”
Maley would replace Jim Martin this summer. Haley appointed Martin last June as the second inspector general. He committed to one year, saying he didn’t want the job permanently, but said Wednesday he’s willing to stay longer to help with the transition before retiring for a third and final time.
Haley created the post by executive order in March 2011. But the first inspector general, George Schroeder, left quietly seven weeks later amid concerns about the operation’s independence.
Haley signed a law Feb. 1 officially making the inspector general’s office a separate state agency with its own budget, rather than part of the governor’s office.
But without a budget, the office still operates under the executive order, Martin said.
The Senate’s proposed spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1 provides $328,000 for the office, maintaining its four-person staff. The House plan passed in March contained nothing for the office. The House on Wednesday approved an amendment to the Senate’s version that would designate a single dollar – essentially a placeholder for conference committee debate.
The law expands the authority of the inspector general, allowing the office to investigate all agencies, not just the 16 in the Cabinet, and provides subpoena power. That means the scope of its work increases to more than 200 agencies, boards, commissions and colleges.
But Martin said it’s probably wise to keep the office at the current level and gradually expand it. He believes the investigations will get more complex, as the office will have to be selective about what it can handle.
“If we get inundated with substantive allegations and complaints,” Martin said, then the inspector general should ask the Legislature for more money during the regular budgeting process.
The office has no enforcement power under the law, though it can bring a civil suit if the attorney general first declines. Any reports must be sent to the governor, agency director, and leaders of the House and Senate.
Over the last year, Martin’s office has looked into more than 140 cases; 20 are still under review.