Originally created 01/27/99

Officials question office cost

COLUMBIA -- South Carolina Republicans already pursuing records related to the cost of finding a temporary home for new Democratic Gov. Jim Hodges now want to know how much was spent on his new office in the renovated Statehouse.

GOP Executive Director Trey Walker asked the State Budget and Control Board on Tuesday for all documents relating to office equipment for Mr. Hodges and his staff.

Mr. Walker also wants to know how much Mr. Hodges has spent remodeling and decorating his office since his Nov. 4 election.

The same day Mr. Hodges was sworn in, Jan. 13, $7,200 in new rental furniture was being unloaded into the governor's office.

That included a desk, a credenza and a chair, though former Gov. David Beasley's chair, made by prison labor, was available for Mr. Hodges' use. The state is paying $172 a month for the pieces.

Calls to Mr. Hodges' office for reaction to the latest GOP request were not immediately returned.

New furniture has attracted a lot of attention in South Carolina during the past few years.

The state Senate took some heat for the decision to buy $2,900 desks for its renovated chamber.

And Mr. Hodges ran a TV spot during the fall criticizing Mr. Beasley's office furniture.

In December, Mr. Walker asked the budget board for all records related to Mr. Hodges' search for a new home while the Governors' Mansion is renovated. The state ended up renting a home for the first family in Columbia's Shandon neighborhood for $5,500 a month.

Republicans contended the governor and his family could have lived in the Lace House on the mansion grounds, though Mr. Hodges' aides disputed that.

The GOP, trying to cast the issue as one of school choice, alleged that the real reason Mr. Hodges did not want to live there was so he could send his son to a school other than the one that serves the neighborhood near downtown Columbia.


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