Government Relations & Administrative Law
South Carolina

Our South Carolina government relations professionals include former state legislators and legislative staff, and collectively they have approximately 125 years of combined experience.  They enjoy close working relationships with members and staff of the General Assembly, including the Senate and House Leadership, as well as with officials and staff of State agencies. Our team includes professionals who reside in Greenville, Mount Pleasant and Columbia, enhancing relationships with regional delegations.  Nelson Mullins’ offices in four (4) South Carolina cities makes us a local firm for many legislators.

As needed by clients, our government relations professionals routinely engage in:

  • direct lobbying of members and staff of the General Assembly, the Governor’s Office and State agencies;
  • preparing and implementing legislative, regulatory and government contracts strategies for clients and communicating their messages effectively;
  • political and issue analysis relating to legislative, regulatory and executive branch matters;
  • monitoring and timely reporting on legislative activities and developments, including legislative bills, hearings, and Committee meetings;
  • securing opportunities for client participation in the legislative and regulatory processes, including appearances at Committee meetings, visits with state agency officials, legislators and staff, and comments submitted for the record;
  • regular contact with legislators and staff, and frequent interaction  with  members and staff of state agencies, boards and commissions. 
  • virtually full-time presence at the State House Complex on legislative days, and attendance at the  legislative receptions
  • advising on media, grassroots and other public relations components; and
  • assisting in matters directly related to government relations services, including compliance with State laws governing registration, spending and disclosures by lobbyists and lobbyist’s principals.

In addition to federal and state lobbying, Nelson Mullins provides related government relations services, including

  • public strategies;
  • public policy and international practice;
  • federal and state grants;
  • economic development;
  • transportation policy; and
  • executive branch and administrative agencies.

Our South Carolina government relations/lobbying team is comprised of the following former public officials and experienced government relations professionals:
David Wilkins was the long-time Speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives, until appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as Ambassador to Canada, and is an invaluable resource with his relationships and strategic counsel.  He  led the transition team for Governor Nikki Haley and serves on the leadership board of the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), which leads GOP efforts in non-federal races.  He is joined on the team by Senior Advisor Christy Cox and Special Advisor Ashley Martin.

Dwight Drake and Ed Poliakoff together have more than 40 years experience lobbying for clients before the South Carolina General Assembly. Mr. Poliakoff  is the author of the South Carolina chapter in Lobbying, PACs and Campaign Finance, 50-State Handbook, published annually by Thomson/Reuters.

Mr. Drake served as executive assistant for legislative and political affairs for Governor Richard W. Riley and as legal counsel to Governor John C. West. He has litigated sensitive, high-profile court cases and is recognized as one of the state’s leading political and legislative strategists.

George Wolfe was a senior U.S. Treasury Department official during the first term of the Bush Administration  and served two tours in the senior leadership of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.  

James Burns served as S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley's chief of staff during the start of her second term and coordinated with legislators and state agencies in carrying out the governor’s agenda. In addition to his experience as the governor's chief of staff, Mr. Burns has served as chair of the S.C. State Ethics Commission and as former counsel to the S.C. Ethics Reform Commission.

Kathy Shannon is recognized at the South Carolina State House as a leading lobbying professional. Ms. Shannon enjoys effective working relationships with members of the House and Senate Majority leadership, among others.

Harry Cato is a government relations consultant who served in the S.C. House of Representatives for 20 years, representing the northern portion of Greenville County.  He served as the Speaker Pro-Tempore to the SC House of Representatives and as the Chairman of the Labor, Commerce and Industry (LCI) Committee of the South Carolina House of Representatives for 14 years.