COLUMBIA, S.C. — Republican gubernatorial candidate Catherine Templeton said a consulting contract with South Carolina’s health and environmental agency she signed the day after she quit as the department’s director was common practice.

Documents from the Department of Health and Environmental Control show the department paid Templeton $17,300 a month for five months starting in January 2015 to help the agency’s transition to another leader.

DHEC said it also paid the leader before Templeton, Earl Hunter, to be a consultant for months after he left the agency and plans to keep current director Catherine Heigel on the payroll as a consultant for a while after she leaves in August.

Templeton is a Republican running against current Gov. Henry McMaster in 2018, and McMaster campaign adviser Tim Pearson said the contract deserves more scrutiny. He also pointed out Templeton was paid more as a consultant than her about $14,000-a-month salary as DHEC’s leader.

The extra money was to cover expenses she didn’t have as director, including taxes, so her actual compensation would be about the same, Templeton said

Templeton also was a paid consultant for the state Department of Revenue in 2015 and later was a vice president for The State Ports Authority.

She pointed out McMaster has also been a consultant with a state entity collecting $550,000 in nearly four years from the University of South Carolina for fundraising work.

Templeton, McMaster and former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill have announced they are seeking the Republican nomination for governor in 2018. No Democrats have announced they are entering the race. Filing will be in March.

The contract was first reported by The Post and Courier of Charleston.