Category Archives: Nikki Haley

If speaking ability carries the day, then Haley beats Sheheen

Gov. Nikki Haley, speaking to the Columbia Rotary Club last week.

Gov. Nikki Haley, speaking to the Columbia Rotary Club last week.

Reports this morning noted that Nikki Haley has amassed three times as much in campaign funds as has her once-and-future opponent, Vincent Sheheen.

But she enjoys another advantage that I suspect could be even more important: She’s a much better public speaker.

She’s energetic, articulate, engaging and sincere. And those things count with an audience. Especially a live one, as I was reminded when I heard her speak to the Columbia Rotary Club last week.

Meanwhile, Vincent is… Vincent. He’s articulate; I’ll give him that. But his comparatively lollygagging presentation keeps him from connecting the way she does. As I’ve said before, he comes across as a good, smart guy whose attitude is, “Sure, I’ll step forward and be governor, if no one better does.”

By contrast, there is zero doubt in the mind of any listener that Nikki Haley wants it. And that counts. Oh, Americans may give lip service to wanting to elect regular folks who aren’t “career politicians,” who can take public office or leave it alone. But they don’t give their votes to candidates who don’t care enough to court them with every ounce of energy they can muster.

And Nikki Haley does this. She certainly connected well with the Rotary crowd last week. I was reminded yet again of how charmed I was by Ms. Haley in her first couple of runs at public office. She makes a very good first, second, and several more impressions. It’s only after awhile that it starts to bother you that she persists in saying things that… aren’t… quite… true.

Henry McMaster, who has established himself as the best sport in South Carolina with his unstinting support of Nikki since she took from him the nomination that likely would have been his without her meteoric rise, gave her a strong introduction at Rotary. He spoke in glowing terms of how much better off he saw South Carolina as being than it was a few years ago.

And there wasn’t much to fault in what he said, beyond the implication that Nikki Haley deserved the credit. For instance… He lauded the fact that the state’s three major research universities work together these days rather than engaging in wasteful competition. And that is a good thing. But it started years before anyone ever conceived of Nikki Haley being governor. It started when Andrew Sorensen was president at USC (and has continued through Harris Pastides’ tenure). Sorensen formed a partnership with Clemson President James Barker and MUSC President Ray Greenberg. They started going to the Legislature together to talk budgets, rather than clawing at each other for funding. Here’s a column I wrote in February 2006 about the then-startling spectacle of seeing Sorensen and Barker meeting with House Speaker Bobby Harrell at the same time.

Anyway, the state of affairs Henry described was accurate, and worth applauding.

But then, when Nikki Haley got up to speak — and as I say, impressed the audience throughout — she twice spoke of her proposal to go to a system of “accountability funding” for higher education. But she suggested that we need this so as to end the current situation, in which each university is funded according to which of them has the best lobbyist.

No. That describes the situation we had a decade ago. The governor’s funding formula might be well and good — I don’t know enough to critique it at this point — but the problem she’s prescribing it for does not exist. The problem in state funding for higher education is that it has been reduced so much that it’s in the single digits, as a percentage of universities’ operating costs.

That inaccuracy seemed to go right by the audience, as did other things she said that sounded good — she always sounds good, to me as well as to everyone else — but weren’t quite as grounded in reality as a serious observer would like them to be.

And if you’re not a “professional politician,” or a dedicated student of what happens at the State House, or someone who works in the complex field of higher ed funding in this particular case, this stuff just blows right past you. She comes across as smart, informed, dedicated and caring.

And until Vincent Sheheen is able to project those same qualities with much greater gusto, he’s going to be left behind.

I tried shooting some video of her speech last week, but the sound was terrible. You can get a taste of her delivery, however, if you turn it way up. If you’d like to hear her whole speech, it’s here at the Rotary site. The governor’s speech starts at 22 minutes in.

Sheheen hits Haley on absenteeism, education funding

Here’s a release that came in from the Vincent Sheheen gubernatorial campaign:

Dear Brad,

When the going gets tough, Nikki Haley gets going…right out of state. 

This week a published report showed South Carolina topping the list of states slashing school spending and hurting public education, specifically citing Governor Haley’s political ideology as a main reason for the dramatic cuts. 

That’s just after the release of a report showing that South Carolina’s middle-class families are struggling even more with falling incomes since Nikki Haley took office. 

The going is getting tough for the people of South Carolina. And where’s Nikki Haley? Out-of-state raising money for the past three days at events she hid from her public schedule

Tell Nikki Haley that the challenges facing middle-class families and small businesses in our state won’t be solved by her jetting off to New York and Philadelphia to raise money for her campaign. 

Please donate $250, $100 or $50 today to make her a one-term governor so she can spend as much time as she wants outside of South Carolina. 



Of course, before you click on that link and give Vincent money, you’re going to click on this link and give to our Walk for Life team, right?

Here, by the way, is the report to which the release referred about education funding:

Even in 2008, before the dramatic budget cuts the state has enacted in the past few years, South Carolina spent the fourth-lowest amount on education. As fiscal year 2014, South Carolina primary and secondary students will each be educated with about $500 less than before the recession. The lack of education funding is, in part, due to the political ideals of Governor Nikki Haley. In 2011, she vetoed the state’s budget and included $56 million in cuts to education. In addition, Haley refused to accept money from the Education Jobs Fund — a federal program intended to mitigate budget constraints in schools across the country. South Carolina was the only state that did not seek money from this program.

Oh, yeah… what about Nikki Haley and the Savannah port?

Kristin Sosanie over at the SC Democratic Party brings up something I hadn’t thought about for awhile, but which we’re likely to hear more about as Nikki Haley tries to get re-elected:

Vice President Biden will be in South Carolina’s lowcountry today to talk about the importance of the Port of Charleston for the state and national economy. Governor Nikki Haley will attend, and we can only imagine she’s hoping beyond hope that the people of South Carolina have forgotten how she sold out the Port of Charleston and the South Carolina economy for $15,000 in campaign contributions.


Actions speak louder than words, and no matter what she says today, South Carolinians remember that when it came down to it Nikki Haley chose to give Georgia the competitive edge over South Carolina in order to stuff her campaign coffers. Take a look back at the coverage of Nikki Haley’s infamous “Savannah Sellout”:


Haley Received $15K from a Georgia fundraiser prior to port deal that gave Savannah an edge over Charleston and hurt the state’s economic future. “Gov. Nikki Haley faces increasing questions over her role in a decision that helped Savannah gain a competitive advantage over the Port of Charleston, the state’s main economic engine. New concerns arose over two recent events: Haley’s refusal to attend a Senate hearing next week on the matter, and revelations that she raised $15,000 at a Georgia fundraiser 13 days before the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control approved dredging Savannah’s harbor. That Nov. 10 approval came about six weeks after the agency denied the request over water-quality issues the dredging would cause.” [Post & Courier, 11/24/11]


Haley Sold Charleston Port Down River. “Last week, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal put out a statement to thank our own Nikki Haley ‘and others’ for helping out with the expansion of the Savannah port. That sure was nice of him. Of course it’s the least he could do, seeing as how our governor and “others” — her hand-picked Department of Health and Environmental Control board cronies — sold out South Carolina and the Charleston port for him. The DHEC board recently approved a controversial permit to dredge the Savannah River, a move that literally will put the river on life support and could cost this state billions.” [Post & Courier, 11/20/11]


Pay to Play Politics at its Worst. “An investigation has uncovered plane rides and large campaign contributions that some say show a cozy relationship between Gov. Haley and the DHEC board….Gov. Haley attended a fundraising event in Georgia just two weeks before DHEC approved the Georgia dredging permit. The event raised money from Georgia businesses to fund Gov. Haley’s 2014 re-election campaign. Before Gov. Haley appointed them to the DHEC board, campaign records show that Kenyon Wells and his family gave the governor $50,000, while DHEC Chair Allen Amsler gave $3,000. A third DHEC board member and Gov. Haley-appointee gave the governor $570 in 2010.” [WIS, 11/30/11]


Opposition from Democrats & Republicans. “Republican and “South Carolina House Republicans and Democrats alike blasted Gov. Nikki Haley on Tuesday for vetoing their resolution expressing displeasure with a state agency’s move to clear the way for the deepening of Georgia’s Port of Savannah. The House overrode Haley’s veto of that resolution by a 111-to-1 vote. ‘This is a political ploy,’ state Rep. Jim Merrill, R-Berkeley, said of Haley’s veto. ‘Once again, (Haley) is working more on behalf of Georgia, when it comes to this permit and this issue, than she is on South Carolina.’” [The State,2/28/12]

Congratulations to Ted Pitts, and to the gov for picking him

Y’all probably think I don’t praise Nikki Haley enough (y’all are just hypercritical, you know that?), so here goes…

I think she made a great decision choosing Ted Pitts — my former representative — to be her new chief of staff:

COLUMBIA — Gov. Nikki Haley has named her former fellow Lexington County legislator, Ted Pitts, as her new chief of staff.

Pitts succeeds Bryan Stirling, who was the S.C. Department of Corrections director last week.

Pitts served with Haley while she in the General Assembly from 2005-11. He was in the legislature from 2003-11 before he chose not to run for reelection when his S.C. National Guard unit was deployed to Afghanistan. He also ended a bid for lieutenant governor…

Ted’s a good guy who has his head on straight, and I think most people agree with me on that. And unlike her first chief of staff, he actually knows South Carolina.

So good one there.

How was that not a campaign trip? And why the secrecy?

Still scratching my head over the state Ethics Commission fixin’ to slap Nikki Haley’s wrist, then changing its mind:

Gov. Nikki Haley’s campaign will not have to repay the state for the cost of a SLED security detail that accompanied her on a trip to North Carolina in June, the State Ethics Commission’s executive director said Wednesday.

Haley attended a late-June N.C. event sponsored by the Renew North Carolina Foundation, a 501(c)4 that supports Republican N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory. Tuesday, reports surfaced the state-owned vehicle Haley was riding in on that trip was involved in a minor car accident June 27. Haley, along with her political adviser and a campaign fundraiser, were passengers in that vehicle, according to a public incident report.

Cathy Hazelwood, the attorney for the state Ethics Commission, said Wednesday morning she had sent a letter to Haley’s campaign asking it to reimburse the state for providing the Republican governor with a security detail on a campaign fundraising trip. “I can’t fathom why you have campaign people in your car and that’s not a campaign event,” Hazelwood said…

But then, the director of the agency said never mind, once he got “the whole story” from one of the governor’s attorneys.

So… what IS the whole story? I mean, what’s with the governor of our state getting in a wreck in another state, and we hear about it months later?

And how was that not a campaign trip?

First, Vincent, you need a huge SC flag


Normally, I don’t go in for the big stage props in politics. I still recall the time, in a barn at the agricultural experiment station outside Jackson, TN, in the late ’70s (or was it early ’80s?), when some national political figure stood to make a speech in front of two symmetrically-stacked ziggurats of hay and a tractor. I also remember how hot it was, and how the runnels of sweat rolled off the beautiful young network camerawoman standing on a platform just above me, her thin garments saturated and clinging to her…

But that’s beside the point. The point is that I don’t usually go in for the big, fakey stage props in politics. I thought the hay and the tractor were kinda cheesy. It was the first of many experiences I would have with such cheesiness.

That said, Vincent Sheheen has little choice now. He must find a really, really big South Carolina state flag and launch his campaign standing in front of it. The opening handed him by his opponent is just too inviting.

With her announcement yesterday, Nikki Haley made it clear that if you thought she was running a cookie-cutter, national, ideological campaign with no bearing upon South Carolina at all back in 2010, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

First, she stands in front of a U.S. flag that must have been bought second-hand from the people who filmed “Patton.” (The State said it was “tennis court-sized.” I think maybe they were playing doubles.) Then, she stood not with South Carolinians, not with people who have anything at all to say about South Carolina or who care a fig about South Carolina, but with Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Rick Perry of Texas and Scott Walker of Wisconsin (which the New York Daily News calls her “blue-shirted band of merry men.”)

Oh, wait, Tim Scott was there — you know, the guy she elevated to the Senate, and who therefore owes her big-time.

The other governors were there to back her up as she said things such as this:

“When it came to Obamacare, we didn’t just say ‘no.’ We said ‘never.’ We are not expanding Medicaid just because President Obama thinks we should.”

Because, you know, that’s what it’s all about — fighting the big, national ideological fight. By the way, to fully understand that second sentence, you put a comma after Medicaid. Because the reason she’s saying “no” to expanding Medicaid is, of course, “just because President Obama thinks we should.”

Maybe the governor should talk with her former employers over at Lexington Medical Center about the jobs that will be lost there because of her standing in the way of Medicaid expansion. Not to mention the impact on South Carolinians’ health. But she’s not going to do that, and not only because she didn’t leave her old job under the best of terms. She’s not going to do that because she doesn’t care about the impact on South Carolina. It’s all about the national, ideological fight.

Which is something that Vincent Sheheen should seize on as a way to contrast himself to the current governor. He’s done that already, of course. He just needs to drive the point home a bit more firmly.

The big SC flag would be a good start. Not necessarily tennis court-sized. Just big enough to make the point — tastefully, which would be a nice change in and of itself.


Democrats react to Haley announcement with both barrels

Locally, and nationally, Democrats rushed to heap scorn upon Gov. Nikki Haley as she announced her re-election campaign today. From the Vincent Sheheen campaign:

Dear Brad, Today in Greenville Nikki Haley will take the stage with governors from three other states as she officially announces her re-election campaign.  She’s bringing in people from outside of South Carolina because it’s hard to find three people who actually live and work in the Palmetto State who think she deserves a second term.

But those three governors are bringing with them thousands of dollars from out-of-state interests for Haley’s campaign….

And from the Democratic National Committee:

Later today, Governors Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, and Rick Perry will descend on South Carolina in an effort to boost the reelection chances of their embattled colleague, Governor Nikki Haley. In the wake of their 2012 electoral losses, Republicans have looked to their Governors for leadership, calling them in their Autopsy Report “America’s reformers in chief” and claiming they “point the way forward” for the party. Nothing could be further from the truth.

When you look at the records of Haley, Jindal, Walker and Perry you can see that not only are these Republican Governors failing to “point the way forward,” they’re taking their states backward, pursuing the same far-right policies that cost Republicans the White House in 2012.

Gov. Haley’s policies have failed hardworking families over and over; during her tenure as Governor, South Carolina is one of the hardest states in the country to earn a living in, is one of the hardest places in the country to live the American dream of economic mobility, and has an unemployment rate higher than 36 other states.

And the colleagues that Haley is bringing in on her behalf are doing no better for their states. Bobby Jindal is currently the least popular Republican Governor in the country. Under Scott Walker, job growth in Wisconsin has lagged behind the nation. And over Rick Perry’s three terms as Governor the unemployment rate has gone up….

Something I wondered about was her decision to launch in the Upstate — rather than, say, in her home county of Lexington. Maybe she felt the need to go someplace where a) people don’t know her as well, and b) they’ll vote for a Republican no matter who it is.

Haley’s reckless CON madness gets madder by the minute

When we last looked at the matter, Nikki Haley had vetoed funding for the certificate of need process that state law requires before new health facilities can be built and operate — leaving DHEC with an unfunded mandate, and SC hospitals in limbo on major plans.

Her action exhibited a blithe destructiveness across a wide spectrum, from public health policy through economic development.

And the stupid House failed to override her.

Today, it all got crazier:

S.C. hospitals, nursing homes and physicians can go ahead with plans for expansion or adding services without state approval after a program was not funded next year.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control will suspend the Certificate of Need program on Monday, agency director Catherine Templeton said in a letter.

The state House upheld a veto by Gov. Nikki Haley over $1.7 million in funding for the program this week.

“DHEC has no independent authority to expend state funds for Certificate of Need, and therefore, the veto completely suspends the program for the upcoming fiscal year,” Templeton said.

The agency will not take action against any work done while the program is suspended unless told to do so by the General Assembly, Templeton said…

Wow. So… hospitals are just supposed to go ahead with multi-million-dollar projects without going through the approval process that the law still requires, funding or no funding, and not worry about any future legal ramifications? Really?

Then this afternoon, this release came out:

Chairman Brian White and Representative Murrell Smith of the House Ways and Means Committee Issue a Statement Regarding  Governor Haley’s Certificate of Need (CON) Veto



(Columbia, SC) – On Wednesday, June 26, 2013, the South Carolina House of Representatives sustained Governor Haley’s budget veto number twenty by a vote of 56-65.  The effect of this veto reduced general fund support for the Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Certificate of Need (CON) Program by over $1.4 million.


“The House of Representatives did not intend to eliminate the CON Program or its statutory requirements.  In fact, the House believes there are a number of ways for the CON Program to retain its function and purpose. The Governor has the sole power to appoint DHEC’s governing board and is ultimately charged with enforcing the CON law. If the Governor and the agency director wish to unilaterally discontinue the program, as they have indicated, then that is a decision that lies exclusively within the executive branch and one which may be contrary to law but is certainly contrary to the will and intent of the House of Representatives.”



# # #

OK, that release is really badly worded, especially that last sentence. But what the lawmakers appear to be saying is that even though they went along with cutting the funding, they had NOT meant for DHEC to ignore the law — they had meant for it to find the money somewhere to continue the program. Which, of course, was grossly irresponsible on the part of lawmakers — they should have overridden. One of the least defensible dodges of irresponsible legislators is the old “Oh, find the money somewhere” gag. When, you know, they’re the ones who decide what gets funded and what doesn’t.

This is some bad craziness, people. I would think that Ms. Templeton were doing this outrageous thing as a protest of the governor’s irresponsibility, if she weren’t like, you know, the gov’s protege.

The only thing I can think of to fix this problem is the same thing that Joel Lourie is suggesting — that the General Assembly should go back into session to fix the problem and appropriate the funding for the program.

It’s a lot of trouble to go to, but this is a serious matter. One knowledgeable observer (which means, “someone who understands the world a lot better than our governor does”) said to me today, “I suspect there’s going to be a very interesting lawsuit here.”

Hey, more than just one. I can see hospitals suing each other, subcontractors suing contractors when work is started then halted, just a free-for-all.

This is amazing.

Haley still fighting the Lexington County battles of yesteryear — while hurting the Lexington of today

I found it interesting that Nikki Haley, whose former employment by Lexington Medical Center raised ethical questions from many, once again vetoed funding for the operation of the Certificate of Need program.

If you’ll recall, several years back, when Lexington Medical was fighting to get a certificate to do open-heart surgery, the CON process was the bête noire of Lexington County politicians. The state bureaucrats had let Palmetto Health start an open-heart program, so why were they picking on Lexington County?

That issue is now behind them, after a deal struck by Providence and Lexington that allowed Lexington one of the Catholic hospital’s certificates. So folks in her old district by no means benefit from her defunding the program.

In fact, they wouldn’t have back in the day, I suppose — since this action doesn’t obviate the legal requirement for a CON; it just prevents the state from having the means to process one.

And today, this veto — unfortunately sustained by the House — positively harms her former employer, since Lexington is awaiting a CON for a $7.9 million expansion of its radiation-treatment facility.

So no one can accuse the governor from playing hometown favorites with this veto. No, her sin in this case looks to be mere blind, foolish, destructive ideology.

Ethics, schmethics — what on Earth is really going on?

First, the good news is that maybe, just maybe, ethics reform did NOT die in the SC Senate yesterday.

And, on the whole, that’s a good thing. Because while the bill is far from perfect, it’s better than no ethics reform at all.

Vincent Sheheen and Wes Hayes made the bipartisan case for ethics reform in an op-ed today. It was more in the vein of why we need reform, period, than why we need this particular bill. For more of a breakdown on the good and bad qualities of both the House and Senate bills, see this piece by Cindi Scoppe from Sunday before last. After discussing inadequacies in the Senate bill, it concluded:

The good news is that there’s still a chance to add the missing provisions to the bill and shore up the shortcomings, and at least give us a fighting chance of a strong bill coming out of the final conference committee. But there’s a lot of work to be done. And the clock is ticking.

Oh, if only senators were as conscientious as Cindi, and I, and most sensible people, would like them to be.

Rather than worrying about whether the ethics bill had everything in it that it should have, half of the Senate (which is all it took) engaged yesterday in a bipartisan effort to kill such legislation altogether.

I had a terrible time figuring out why they were doing this, from the story in the paper this morning. This was not the reporter’s fault. The problem was that the senators had no reasons that made sense.

The Republicans of the Tea Party wing who voted against putting the bill on special order had a stated reason. But it was just “reason” as motive, not “reason” as logic. It was, in fact, completely batty. They said they didn’t want to spend the time on ethics reform because they wanted to spend it on their 1830s-style bill to nullify Obamacare. Really.

A big reason the bill WAS put on special order today, reversing yesterday’s vote, was because the more sensible Republicans agreed to go along with the demand that the nullification bill be considered, too. Again, really.

But at least there was a certain clarity to the Republicans’ lunacy. Here are the stated Democratic “reasons”:

State Sen. Gerald Malloy, D-Darlington, said there is no urgency in passing the bill, adding its passage by the GOP-controlled House, only four weeks ago, left the Senate with too little time to consider ethics reform.

State Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, said Democrats still have concerns about the proposal that need to be worked out, including the composition of the committee that would oversee ethics complaints against lawmakers. Hutto held up getting to the ethics bill Wednesday by debating a bill that would direct money left over from the state’s budget year that ends June 30 to different projects.

Hutto criticized Haley and other lawmakers for saying that protecting taxpayers against the theft of their personal information — such as the hacking incident that happened last year at the state Department of Revenue — was a top priority when little, he said, has been done to address the problem…

Also, they don’t like the way Nikki Haley spells her name. And they don’t like to put bills on special order on days of the week that start with “W.” OK, I made those last two up, but they make about as much sense, in terms of relevance.

This caused me to dream up reasons. I thought that maybe this was some of the Democrats’ way of hurting Nikki Haley and helping Vincent Sheheen, whether he wants such help or not. (Sheheen was one of the four Democrats voting for special order yesterday.) The idea being to block Nikki Haley’s bid to get credit for ethics reform (in spite of, or perhaps because of, being a poster child for why we need ethics reform), while Vincent’s out there voting for it and writing op-eds in favor of it.

But that theory is a little over-elaborate. It requires voters to blame Nikki for something Democrats did. And even if that worked, they’d have to kill the bill next year, too.

I’m afraid the more likely explanation is simply that these guys are opposed to ethics reform. That’s the Occam’s razor version, and probably the right one.

Anyway, today’s action offers reform a chance this year. We’ll see.

Nikki Haley could have saved herself (much of) this grief

The SC Democratic Party sent out this release a few minutes ago:

Nikki Haley’s Terrible, No-Good, Very-Bad Week

After three days of condemnation, Haley finally drops white supremacist co-chair


It’s been a rough week for Governor Nikki Haley and her reelection campaign. But that’s what happens when you appoint, and then spend three days defending, a white supremacist co-chair to your campaign. Let’s recap:


One week ago, reports first surfaced that Nikki Haley had appointed a leader of a white nationalist group as a co-chair of her reelection campaign.


Southern Poverty Law Center: SC Governor Names White Nationalist to Reelection Committee. “Garcia-Quintana is a lifetime member and current board member of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), which is listed as a white nationalist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The CCC is the linear descendant of the old White Citizens Councils, which were formed in the 1950s and 1960s to battle school desegregation in the South, and has evolved into a crudely racist organization.” [SPLC, 5/22/13]


Two days later, amid calls for her to dismiss the white supremacist co-chair, Governor Haley and her team stood by him even as he doubled-down on his divisive rhetoric.


Haley rebuffs Dem demands that she dismiss controversial advisor. “Gov. Nikki Haley’s re-election campaign has no plans to remove a controversial volunteer who S.C. Democrats and others say has ties to white supremacist groups…. ‘Is it racist to be proud of your own heritage? Is it racist to want to keep your own heritage pure?’ Garcia-Quintana said.” [The State, 5/24/13]


Nikki Haley: No Plans to Remove Controversial Volunteer. “Over the past week, several media outlets have reported that one of the volunteers for Gov. Nikki Haley’s re-election has been active in groups linked to right-wing extremism. On Friday, Haley’s political director Tim Pearson told Patch Haley has no plans to ask the volunteer, Roan Garcia-Quintana, to step down from the team of 170-plus volunteers.” [Patch, 5/24/13]


Over the weekend, Haley’s team launched political attacks and pointed the finger at others, while still defending their appointment.


Garcia-Quintana said he had “no plans to step aside and has not been asked to.” “Garcia-Quintana, a Mauldin resident, said he has no plans to step aside and has not been asked to. Even if he were, he said he would still volunteer on behalf of Haley. Earlier this week, Garcia-Quintana was linked to an organization that advocates for purification of races. He did not back off those views when he spoke to Patch on Saturday.” [Patch, 5/25/13]


Finally, on Sunday night before Memorial Day, Haley’s campaign finally asked Mr. Garcia-Quintana to resign, claiming ignorance on his beliefs (which they had just spent three days excusing).


Volunteer exits Haley campaign group after accusations of racism. “Haley’s campaign had been criticized by civil-rights groups and Democrats for the role played by Garcia-Quintana, who they said has ties to a white nationalist group. The campaign initially stood by Garcia-Quintana. But Sunday the campaign said it requested his resignation, which was offered and accepted, because it was “previously unaware” of some of Garcia-Quintana’s comments.” [The State, 5/26/13]


Post & Courier: “Flip-flop much?” “Pearson’s about-face was classic. On Friday, he said: ‘There’s nothing racial about this Cuban-American’s participation in the political process, nor his support for the first Indian-American governor and the first African-American U.S. senator in South Carolina history.’ Two days later, he said: ‘There is no place for racially divisive rhetoric in the politics or governance of South Carolina. While we appreciate the support Roan has provided, we were previously unaware of some of the statements he had made, statements which do not well represent the views of the governor.’ Flip-flop much?” [Post and Courier,5/29/13]


Now, editorial boards and columnists around the state are weighing in and asking the same question as South Carolinians: why did Governor Haley and her team spend three days defending a white supremacist and refusing to disavow his beliefs?


Post & Courier: Haley’s call right, but was reason? “Hold the hypocrisy. The cynical view here is that Haley used the holiday weekend to distance herself some from unnecessary controversy. Self-preservation is nothing new from the governor’s office. But maybe Haley actually didn’t want to associate with a guy who holds intolerant views, which would bode well for her political maturity. Or maybe she just realized it would have looked hypocritical to get indignant about Jake Knotts’ ‘raghead’ comment and then ignore this.” [Post and Courier, 5/29/13]


Rock Hill Herald: Haley dumps volunteer. “Gov. Nikki Haley did the right thing in dismissing one of the co-chairs of her grass-roots political organization because of his ties to a white nationalist group. The only surprise is that it took her three days to do so.” [Rock Hill Herald, 5/28/13]


It really has been a terrible, no-good, very-bad week for Nikki Haley.


But sadly for South Carolinians who continue to struggle with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, some of the worst public schools in the nation, and roads and bridges on the verge of crumbling, Governor Haley’s failure to lead is no surprise.

What I liked about it best was the headline that SCDP Communications Director Kristin Sosanie put on it: “Nikki Haley’s Terrible, No-Good, Very-Bad Week.”

Somehow, evoking children’s literature seems apropos, given the intellectual level on which we conduct politics in SC.

Other than that, the release is garden-variety, partisan, kick-’em-while-they’re-down stuff.

The governor could have saved herself some of this grief had she just not played the usual game. Her team treated complaints about this “Confederate Cuban” in a manner consistent with the standard playbook that SC Democrats and Republicans take off the national shelf: If the other side criticizes you, dismiss it, and criticize the other side for criticizing you — because that’s just the way those awful people on the other side are…

A small amount of due diligence — an hour or two spent looking into this guy before saying anything, then going ahead and getting rid of him on the first day, explaining that you just hadn’t known — would have left her looking better. It also would have been extraordinary, given, as I said, the level on which we conduct our politics in South Carolina.

She could have had a “Terrible, No-Good, Very-Bad” afternoon, rather than “Terrible, No-Good, Very-Bad Week” week. Or weekend, anyway…

Sheheen releases tax returns, urges Haley to do likewise

Again, Vincent Sheheen is challenging Ms. Transparency to live up to the reputation that she seems to want to have:

Sheheen releases tax returns, calls for transparency from all SC leaders
Senator calls for leaders to “walk the walk” on transparency and ethics reform
Camden, SC – Today, Sen. Vincent Sheheen released his 2011 and 2012 tax returns. These returns join the ten years of tax returns that Sen. Sheheen released during the 2010 gubernatorial campaign, and statements of income disclosure from his time in the Senate that have all been disclosed previously. Sen. Sheheen has led bipartisan efforts to include full income disclosure in ethics reform in the state legislature as part of his career-long fight to restructure and reform the inefficient and corrupt government in South Carolina.
“Without ethical leaders, we won’t have ethical government. I have chosen to release 12 years of tax returns because it’s not enough to say one thing and do another on ethics and leadership. We have to walk the walk,” said Sen. Sheheen. “I call on other leaders in our state to release their returns as well. Governor Haley especially should release her most recent tax returns, as well as the ten years prior that she refused to disclose during the last campaign. South Carolinians deserve full disclosure and transparency, not just more political rhetoric absent results.”
Sheheen for South Carolina will make copies of Sen. Sheheen’s 2011 and 2012 tax returns available to the media for review at 915 Lady Street in Columbia from Tuesday, May 28th at 1:00pm through Friday, May 31st at 6:00pm. Please contact to set up a time.

I just had one question for the Sheheen campaign, though — why not just put it all online, or otherwise make the returns available electronically? As a PDF, or whatever. Seems like that would make the point more… pointedly.

Anyway, The State has gone ahead and looked at them, and reported:

COLUMBIA — S.C. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Vincent Sheheen made $535,000 in 2011 and 2012, according to federal and state income tax filings released Tuesday.

Sheheen, a state senator from Kershaw County, earned almost all of his income from his Camden law practice.

He paid $131,360 in taxes and donated $21,580 to charity over the past two tax years.

The 42-year-old father of three made $310,273 in 2011 with an taxable income of $282,258. He earned $224,920 last year with a taxable income of $198,218…

The State‘s Andy Shain also reports:

Gov. Nikki Haley will release her returns for 2012 next week, her office said…

Lourie, Rutherford ask Haley to ditch alleged white supremacist

This came in today:

Columbia, SC – Today Senator Joel Lourie and House Democratic Leader Rep. Todd Rutherford called on Governor Haley today to immediately remove and condemn Roan Garcia Quintana, a white supremacist, from her campaign committee. The letter below was sent to Governor Haley via email earlier this afternoon.


Dear Governor Haley,

South Carolina is a place that has faced serious challenges and come together in the past to create a stronger society. But when our leaders embrace those who use the most hurtful and divisive rhetoric, it takes us ten steps backwards and unnecessarily divides the state.



This week, the public has become aware of the statements, affiliations and belief in white nationalism that one of your top supporters has engaged in throughout his life. You chose Mr. Roan Garcia Quintana as one of your top supporters and placed him on your reelection grassroots steering committee – which is extremely concerning for all who want South Carolina to attract businesses, grow and move forward.

Mr. Quintana is currently the executive director of the anti-immigration organization Americans Have Had Enough. More disturbingly, he has been identified in numerous reports as a current board member and former director of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), which both the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League have labeled as a hate group.

Additionally, as we are sure you are aware Governor, in 1999 CCC distributed mock advertisements encouraging people to visit our state because, “South Carolina Now Has Whiter Beaches.” The CCC’s newsletter, Citizens Informer has also been used to advocate against “race-mixing,” the superiority of the white race, and the dangers of immigration to America.

This type of leadership is the opposite of what South Carolina needs. We urge you to strongly rebuke his statements and explain why you thought it appropriate to align yourself with him and his extreme beliefs.

South Carolina has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, and this kind of divisive outlook will only deter businesses and start ups from coming to our state.

South Carolina is losing the majority of our educated young people to other states in the region, and this kind of backwards thinking will only drive them and their talent further away.

We have a lot of work to do in South Carolina and we cannot move forward if you continue to support the hateful, divisive rhetoric and work of people like Mr. Quintana.

The people and businesses of South Carolina deserve an explanation for why this individual was placed on your grassroots steering committee. We strongly request that you remove this individual from the position of leadership you have bestowed upon him, renounce and condemn his views and the views of the organizations he associates with, and apologize for elevating him to a position of note within your re-election campaign.

The people of South Carolina look forward to your response.


Rep. Todd Rutherford

Sen. Joel Lourie


Here’s some background on what they’re talking about:

One of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s (R) picks for her reelection committee in February has now been accused of being a white supremacist, Raw Story reported Wednesday.

Haley, who is actively preparing for her2014 reelection campaign, named tea party activist Roan Garcia-Quintana as one of the 164 co-chairs of her campaign’s steering committee in February.

According to a report titled “SC Governor Names White Nationalist To Reelection Committee” and published on Wednesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Garcia-Quintana serves on the board of the Council of Conservative Citizens, which is listed by the SPLC as a white nationalist hate group. The group is, according to the SPLC, a linear descendant of White Citizens Councils, which was founded in the 1950s to combat school desegregation….

Dueling videos, opening shots in 2014 campaign

James Smith’s comments about Nikki Haley and “corruption” should also be taken within the context of the above ad from the Democratic Governor’s Association.

Meanwhile, with the video below, Haley supporters show that they want to run against Barack Obama again. But at least this ad mentions Sheheen, which is something.

How do the ads strike me? As I indicated earlier, I’m a little leery of the word “corruption.” Yeah, Nikki Haley has a serious transparency problem, she’s not very good at paying her taxes on time, and that $40k she got from Wilbur Smith when she was in the House raises a questions that have not yet been answered. But “corruption” is a word I tend to use for something more overt, more red-handed. Early in my career, back in Tennessee, I saw out-and-out corruption — Gov. Ray Blanton selling pardons. He went to prison for it. Maybe that made me overly fussy. The things the DGA are citing here are real problems, and they provide us with plenty of reason not to vote for Nikki Haley; I’m just quibbling over the word.

The Sheheen/Obamacare ad is just disgraceful. But then, so is the governor’s position of refusing to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid, so I see it entirely in that context. For me, her position is indefensible, so the ad is as well. Then there’s that additional ugliness of playing to the fact that “Obama” is the boogeyman to so many white voters in South Carolina. “Obamacare” is used as an incantation, with the operative ingredient being “Obama,” not the “care.” The issue is secondary to the fact that that awful Obama person is associated with it.

James Smith gets way harsh on Nikki Haley

From Rep. James Smith’s Facebook page:

If SC had seen genuine ethics reform previously and had an ethics committee with any teeth, Nikki Haley would likely have been forced out of the House and never would have made it to the Governor’s office. Her actions and the culture of corruption continue to bring shame on SC and the people of our state deserve better.

Coming from such a nice, easygoing, mild-talking guy as James Smith, that is way harsh. Especially that last sentence.

That’s the kind of stuff his neighbor Mia McLeod would say. We can see this, I suppose, as a heating-up of rhetoric as James’ friend Vincent Sheheen prepares to take on the governor. But I think it’s also a measure of the degree to which James, mild-mannered as he is, is fed up.

Anyway, for context, here’s this morning’s story in The State about the ethics bill.

Sheheen decries decriminalization of ethics violations

Got this release a few minutes ago from Vincent Sheheen:

Sheheen on Ethics Reform: GOP efforts & Governor’s back-seat approach the “good-old-boys-and-girls network at its worst”

Columbia – Today, state Representatives Beth Bernstein and James Smith stood up to call for real ethics reform and urged Governor Haley for leadership instead of hiding behind yet another bureaucratic commission while her followers do the dirty work of decriminalizing some of the most common ethics violations – many of which she was accused of herself. State Senator Vincent Sheheen released this statement:

“I thank Representatives Bernstein and Smith for joining me in the revolt against the status quo and the efforts to move South Carolina forward by returning common sense and ethics to our leadership. The Republican effort at ‘ethics reform’ is the good-old-boys–and-girls network in politics at its worst. We need real leadership to clean up the government, not just a study or report while members of the Governor’s own party decrease the punishment on ethics violations that she has been charged with.

“For too long, South Carolina has struggled to meet its potential under the guidance of leaders who get detoured by putting their self-interest before the interests of the people.  We need to change the way we do business and leave the politics of ideology and personal ambition behind to get the state back on track.”


I just wish he wouldn’t use that overworked “good ol’ boys” construction. That got tired back when Carroll Campbell was using it. I don’t think anybody really knows what it means, aside from having a rough impression that it’s bad.

Here’s a column I wrote musing about the phrase years ago…

And here’s a column Cindi Scoppe wrote on this “ethics” legislation. An excerpt:

After failing for more than half the session even to introduce their proposal on legislators’ top to-do item, House leaders rolled out a place-holder bill on April 11 that contained nothing but the bill title. They scheduled a subcommittee meeting for the next legislative day, last Tuesday, where House Republican Leader Bruce Bannister, who chairs the Constitutional Law Subcommittee, handed members of his panel a summary and a 100-page amendment that would become the bill.

Panel members discussed the items on the summary — decriminalization was not on the list — made some changes and approved the bill before they had a chance to read it. (It took me nearly three hours to do what I consider a cursory reading.) The process repeated the next day in the full Judiciary Committee, whose members also made changes without having time to read the bill. The text of the bill wasn’t posted online until Thursday evening, seven hours after the committee formally reported it to the House.

Although it’s common for the amended version of a bill not to be available until the next step in the process, I can’t recall a bill ever making it to full committee, much less the full House, before some version was available.

The process was so confusing that Rep. James Smith, a Democrat who serves on the subcommittee, told me Thursday morning that the bill increased penalties for the worst ethics violations. The next day, he called to say he was outraged to discover he was wrong — and to promise to lead a fight to restore them. GOP Rep. Rick Quinn, who also serves on the subcommittee, emailed me an amendment he planned to offer that would do what both men had thought the bill did — increase the current criminal penalties…

Yeah, I had spoken with James, last Tuesday night I think it was, when he was fresh from the meeting alluded to above, and he thought it was a good bill. It’s a good thing that he recognized his mistake…

Haley poll results: Up or down? No, statistically the same…

First, I saw this release from the state Democratic Party:

Columbia – Today, Winthrop University released its latest public polling data showing that once again, the majority of South Carolinians do not approve of the job Governor Nikki Haley is doing. The Governor made meager gains from within her Republican base but continues to turn off moderates in South Carolina with her politics before people approach that is standing in the way of creating 44,000 jobs by expanding health care, and is costing South Carolina’s taxpayers millions of dollars as a result of the corruption and dysfunction in the state government. The poll also contained bad news for the governor who got elected on a Tea Party wave and consistently chooses to put Tea-Party politics ahead of sound policy – the approval rating for the Tea Party continues to wan with only a quarter of respondents approving of the Governor’s Tea Party movement.

Then, I went back and looked at the news story, which said the opposite:


COLUMBIA — A pair of major 2014 candidates in South Carolina watched opinions about them go in different directions in a new poll released Wednesday.

Gov. Nikki Haley’s job approval is rising among voters — especially those in her Republican party, while U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham saw his support within the GOP falter over the past two months, according to a new Winthrop University poll…

So was she down or up? Well, while both reports were technically true, the reality is that statistically speaking, the level of support for Haley is the same as it’s been. The reported shift is within the margin of error:

Haley’s approval rating among South Carolinians rose to 43.5 percent, up a percentage point from two months ago.

The first-term Republican scores 45 percent among registered voters — also up a percentage point and the fourth straight gain in the past year of Winthrop polls.

More than one in three does not like the governor’s performance in office.

But Haley’s popularity among Republicans rose two percentage points to 69 percent since February — a high in two years of Winthrop polls…

The poll’s margin of error among registered voters was 3.5 percent.

Also… while Haley was “up” and Graham was “down,” Graham is still doing better than the governor is among all voters — although again, the difference between them is less than the margin of error:

His approval among registered voters dropped four percentage points to 44 percent in the past two months and slid among all South Carolinians two percentage points to 45 percent…

The most significant change for Graham was among Republicans, dropping “57.5 percent from 71.6 percent in February.”

Oh, by the way, though — if you think Graham’s numbers are bad, Tim Scott has a 38-percent approval rating among all voters, and 54 percent among Republicans.

So, let’s try to keep everything in perspective.

I heartily disagree with Mia on food stamps and junk food

Here’s the latest from Mia McLeod:

 Dear Governor,

Seriously? Can you just “SNAP” and in an instant, delete certain foods from some South Carolinians’ grocery lists?

Sure, obesity is a genuine, significant health concern for too many people in this state. But that’s not why you’ve made a recent “SNAP” decision. You know it. We know it. And soon, citizens across this state will know it too.
Contrary to South Carolina’s definition, “SNAP” doesn’t mean “Simply Nonchalant About the Poor.” It’s actually a federal program, fully funded by the USDA. Now, isn’t it ironic that our state’s most notorious critics of “BIG” government, are arrogantly hypocritical enough to assume the despicable role of “BIG Brother” when it’s politically expedient?Mia leopard jacket

As asinine as this latest stunt is, it’s even more offensive. Targeting a segment of the population in furtherance of your own political agenda is one thing. Refusing to allow federally-funded healthcare for hard-working South Carolinians while in the same breath, expressing concern about obesity and its impact on their health and well-being, is another.

You don’t want the federal government telling us whether to accept or how to spend our federal tax dollars when a state match or financial investment is required. But yet, you wanna dictate which foods we can buy with SNAP, a fully-funded federal program that doesn’t even require state funds?

The list of qualifying items that can be purchased with SNAP is very straight-forward. As with any program, there’s always room for improvement. But last time we checked, you were able to make nutritional decisions for your family without our intrusion or input. We’re just wondering why you think we need yours.

And since your cronies are traveling the state at our expense, trying to convince us that this is about obesity prevention, perhaps we’ll remember your “heartfelt” concern on our next nonemergency trip to the ER…if we can even find and get to a hospital that’s still open and accessible.

With all due respect, Governor, when it comes to obesity, it’s not the foods that we’re able to buy on SNAP that are making us fat. Perhaps it’s your empty rhetoric that’s making us sick.

If you really cared about this state’s obesity rates or us, you’d do what is well within your purview and power to ensure that we have access to quality, affordable health care, just like you do.

You’d realize that some of us would love to eat the same fresh and organic foods that your family enjoys, but because of “food deserts” across this state, many of us are without the means or access. If you’re genuinely concerned about addressing obesity, you could start by addressing that.

If only we could “SNAP” back from the regressive, debilitating tactics of centuries past, we’d all feel much better. So while South Carolina continues to reek of ignorance, intolerance and insanity, many of our best and brightest continue to leave this state in search of parity, inclusion and meaningful opportunities.

But unlike obesity and other chronic conditions, many never return. Neighboring states too often become the benefactors of our most creative minds and talented contributors. And we’re left with a weaker South Carolina.

So as you continue to cater to your political base by serving folks like us up on a party platter, the only thing that seems to be getting fatter is your reelection campaign account.

At some point, obesity may no longer be an issue for South Carolina. Under your “leadership,” our state is gradually becoming so malnourished on so many levels, it may not be strong enough to “SNAP” out of it.

But you still can, Governor, before it’s too late.

p.s. – South Carolina’s forgotten citizens (a.k.a. – your “other” constituents) may not be members of the Tea Party. But in number, we’re “the real majority.”

She really doesn’t like the idea, does she?

Well, I do. Still. So I guess I’m playing the “despicable role of Big Brother.”

Yes, there are reasons to be concerned about people who live in “food deserts.” I don’t dismiss that, and I can’t say for certain that the stores that now sell junk food in those communities would shift and sell healthier stuff if that’s all their poor patrons could buy. I think that might happen, but I don’t have the full faith in markets that some do.

So that should be thoroughly studied and taken into account before a final decision is made. But I most certainly do not agree with those who have a philosophical, rather than practical, objection to insisting that tax money not be used to buy foods that ruin the health of the poor.

The populists will call this patriarchal, but we are indeed in a position for taking responsibility for people when we undertake to feed them. We are culpable for providing people with the means of poisoning themselves when we could adopt a policy that prevents it.

When we discussed this previously, my old friend and respected colleague Burl Burlingame noted, “when the government wants to experiment, they do so first on the poor.” That may seem a particularly devastating argument against this change. But I submit that we have been running the experiment for half a century now, and the results are in: Paying for junk food kills poor people. It’s time we stop it, and do what we practically can to have a positive, rather than an actively negative, effect on people’s health.

I particularly liked this Sheheen quote about Haley, Sanford

I thought this was good in The State‘s story about Vincent Sheheen running against Nikki Haley again. It quotes him as saying:

“The current administration and previous distraction have presented the same ideas and done the same things. It’s not just (about) Republican control, it’s this ideology of self-promotion and extremism that both Sanford and Haley have brought to the table that has occupied South Carolina’s government for 12 years.”

How very true. What he’s doing there is tapping into what so many Republicans (that is to say, the ones who’ve dealt with them) don’t much like about Nikki or Mark Sanford, either. They didn’t like that everything Mark Sanford did (from “look at me” stunts like bringing the pigs into the State House to his appearing on national FoxNews 46 times while fighting against stimulus funding) was about Mark Sanford, not about South Carolina or its Republican Party. If anything, Nikki Haley has taken that me-me-me approach to new depths.

So that was a highly relevant thing to take note of. I also like the reference to the Sanford administration as the “previous distraction.” It has the same tone of genteel disdain that I hear when South Carolinians speak of the 1860-65 conflict as “the recent unpleasantness.”

I hope to see more such perspicacity from young Mr. Sheheen this time around…

Cindi Scoppe’s righteous rant this morning

Cindi had a column this morning on the new post of cybersecurity chief that the Legislature is adding to the state payroll (maybe the title could be, “Officer in Charge of Closing the Barn Door after the Horses have Run Off”) — or rather, on the outrageous fact that they want this person to be immune from firing by the governor.

As she correctly points out, we have too many state employees like that already — people who don’t really “work for” anyone, since no one can fire them.

There is zero reason to make this particular person independent — unlike, say, the attorney general or the inspector general. Arguments can be made for those. Not for this new post.

Cindi and I have been fighting the Legislature’s aversion to accountability for a lot of years now. So she can be forgiven for winding up into a bit of a rant at the end:

Frankly, I’m willing to trust that politics will keep the governor in line on this one. It’s tough enough for a governor to have to explain that 6.4 million individuals’ and businesses’ Social Security numbers and bank records were hacked because her agency director either didn’t know about or ignored concerns from his own IT people. She certainly doesn’t want to have to explain that we had another breach because she fired the state cybersecurity chief, or cowed him into backing off basic protections.

Truth be told, I’d be more concerned that a governor wouldn’t be aggressive enough if a cybersecurity chief gets out of control.

As much as some legislators are fond of saying that no price is too high to secure our personal information, the fact is that there is always, always more that can be done to provide security, be it for our computer networks or our cities or our businesses or our homes. The fact is that some prices are indeed too high, and it’s the job of our Legislature and our governor, or whoever a cybersecurity director reports to, to balance the risk against the cost, in money and in time.

If you’re going to give union-style job protections to the cybersecurity chief, then why not give them to the governor’s lobbyists — since she might not like it if they tell her that legislators don’t like her? Or to the prison director — since she might not like it if he tells her how much it’s going to cost to keep the prisons safe?

In fact, why not just go back to the way we did things when I moved to South Carolina, when the governor couldn’t fire the directors of any state agencies? When those directors reported to part-time board members who, even if the governor could appoint them, couldn’t be fired.

For that matter, if S.C. governors are that untrustworthy, maybe we ought to go back to the old system whereby the Legislature elected the governor. After all, what’s the point of bothering voters with the matter of electing a governor if the governor has no power to carry out the agenda those voters elected her to carry out?

Or maybe, just maybe, we could decide that government officials should be held accountable for their actions. Maybe we could decide that it’s better to trust that a governor won’t abuse her power over powerful officials than it is to risk that those officials will either get too comfortable in their jobs or else let their power go to their heads, and be less aggressive, or more aggressive, than they ought to be, because they don’t have a boss — and they know they’ve got a job for life.

Amen to all that.