Category Archives: Nikki Haley

Have YOU been harmed by the DOR hacking?

Or do you know anyone who has?

I raised this question, sort of indirectly, earlier — I was questioning the value of Vincent Sheheen trying to get everybody outraged over the hacking, which broke a year ago, when we don’t know whether anyone has been harmed. I was reacting to this passage in an AP story:

It’s unknown if anyone’s identity has been stolen because of the hacking. A Federal Trade Commission attorney has said the selling and trading of stolen information makes it virtually impossible to trace an identity theft case to any particular security breach.

But since that was Friday afternoon, and things I post on Friday afternoons tend to drift off into a vague place, only a few comments were offered, none of them answering the question above.

So, let me know, straight up — do you know of anyone who has good reason to believe he or she was in any way harmed by the breach?

I know someone who has had a terrible time from having her identity stolen, although it happened well before any of this, so I don’t think it’s related.

Someone filed false tax returns for 2011 using my next-to-youngest daughter’s Social Security number and other info. It was a huge hassle getting it all straightened out.

Then, just over a week ago, she got this seriously threatening letter from the IRS saying that she had ignored their previous notices (she had received no previous notices) and that if she didn’t pay more than $7,000 RIGHT NOW her property was going to be seized.

There was no way she had at any time owed the IRS $7,000.

Supposedly, that is now straightened out, also. A guy at the IRS named “Mike” — no surname that I know of — said just to tear up that letter; it was all a mistake. OK, so we’re, um, somewhat reassured. (I assume that if there are any more threats from the IRS, we’re just supposed to say, “Fuggedaboudit. Mike says it’s cool….” We’re counting on Mike being the guy behind the guy.)

I don’t know whether that particular incident is related to the earlier theft or not. I think it is. I’m somewhat confused by the fact that my daughter was out of the country last month, and her purse was stolen — with passport, driver’s license, everything. She had to get a provisional passport from the embassy to get back into the country.

Oh, yes; one other thing — last week I got a notice from Adobe saying that when I bought PhotoShop Express from them several months back, my information was stolen. They want me to sign up for monitoring on their dime, I believe. I guess I’d better get on that; I’ve been busy the last few days and had managed to shove that to the back of my mind…

Unfortunately for Vincent Sheheen, I don’t blame any of these incidents on Nikki Haley.

My point is, people’s identities do get stolen, and it does lead to hassles. So has anyone had any such hassles that they know or merely suspect were related to the Department of Revenue hacking?

And if not, isn’t that sort of odd?

The big weakness in Sheheen’s hacking-outrage strategy

To mark the anniversary of the hacking scandal (remember that? turns out that most South Carolinians had their identities stolen due to the fecklessness of the state Department of Revenue), Vincent Sheheen put out a press release giving incumbent Gov. Nikki Haley hell about it:

The hacking was a horrible and preventable disgrace. First, under Nikki Haley, South Carolina’s Department of Revenue failed to enroll in the most basic protection services available that act as a first step in protection for other agencies and states around the nation. Second, a key cyber security director position at her Dept of Revenue was left vacant for a year while Governor Haley rewarded her campaign staff with other jobs they had little experience for in the administration. Third, the person in the cybersecurity position had quit prior to the hacking due to frustration that his repeated warnings about the vulnerability of the Dept of Revenue went unheeded by Nikki Haley and her closest advisers.
The hacking was a tragedy, and it was preventable. With different leadership and real accountability, we will do better. South Carolina could have been better prepared to withstand the hacking attempts, like other states, and not become a target because of the major holes in our cyber security that were ignored by the Haley administration despite multiple warnings.
By covering-up the hacking for 16 days, Nikki Haley failed the test of leadership. After learning that millions of people in our state had been exposed to great risk under her watch, Nikki Haley’s first instinct was to cover it up. She waited more than two weeks, hired a lawyer, lined up her public relations firm, and covered her tail before deciding it was the right time to let the people she was elected to serve know they were at risk. Then, when she did finally break the news, the story was ever-changing as she flip-flopped back and forth trying to paint a rosier picture. First she said nothing could have been done to prevent it. That wasn’t true. Then she said that no businesses were affected. That wasn’t true. Then she said no children were affected, that wasn’t true. …

And so forth. The State called Sheheen’s letter on the subject “scathing.” Chris Haire of the Charleston City Paper called it “devastating.” (Of course, he also said there’s no way Sheheen is beating Haley next year, which would mean the gov is likely to be less than devastated.)

But there’s just one problem with this strategy for tapping voter ire on this subject — I’m seeing a distinct lack of voter ire.

Maybe y’all have seen something else; I don’t know. If so, report in. Let me know about it.

But my impression is that most of us have been waiting around for a year to see whether this thing is going to have any impact on our lives.

We’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop. Or maybe even for the first shoe to drop, depending on how you read the metaphor.

The end of Seanna Adcox’s story for The Associated Press sort of explains why we’re not all seizing pitchforks and torches and marching toward the governor’s mansion:

Sheheen touted his work in helping create an Identity Theft Reimbursement Fund in the state budget. The largely symbolic program calls for the state to reimburse expenses that an identity theft victim incurs because of a state breach. Someone seeking money would have to apply to the state treasurer’s office.

As of Tuesday, no one had, according to Treasurer Curtis Loftis’ office.

It’s unknown if anyone’s identity has been stolen because of the hacking. A Federal Trade Commission attorney has said the selling and trading of stolen information makes it virtually impossible to trace an identity theft case to any particular security breach.

Yeahhhhh. OK. Well….

If a bunch of us start feeling the effects of this ID theft, and think we have reason to blame it on negligence by the Haley administration, then maybe the Democrat will have some resentment to tap into. But so far, not so much.

So what’s Sheheen’s plan B?

Democrats’ poll says it’s 44-40, with slight edge for Haley

Emphasis on the “slight,” according to the Democrats. Just about the same as the 3.53 percent margin of error:

COLUMBIA — S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley holds slight edge on Democratic challenger Vincent Sheheen in their 2014 gubernatorial rematch, according to a poll done for the Democratic Governors Association.

Haley, a Lexington Republican, leads 44 percent to 40 percent, according to the poll from Clarity Campaign Labs.

Sheheen, a Camden lawyer, is within the margin of error of plus or minus 3.53 percent of tying the race. He lost by 4.5 percentage points to Haley in 2010….

They’re pretty excited about it. I ran into James Smith this morning, who said this is where the 2010 contest was just before the general election, which as you recall, Gov. Haley won with only 51 percent of the vote, and that in the big year for the Tea Party, her natural base.

The thinking, among Democrats, is apparently that if Vincent Sheheen had had just a little more time to keep gaining in 2010, he could have won. And this time, he’s got the time.

Sheheen campaign manager Andrew Whalen lost no time touting the poll in a fundraising email:

This is big! Earlier today, a poll released fantastic news for our campaign. This race is essentially tied.

Now we have proof of what we knew all along: we are poised to win this race!

Vincent is neck-in-neck with Haley, and Nikki Haley’s approval numbers are deep into the incumbent Danger Zone at only 40% statewide…

I think he meant “neck and neck,” but you get the point.

Rep. Smith said he felt like this was as good as it’s going to get for Haley.

Well, we’ll see. She’s quite a campaigner, and in SC, any member of her party has a sort of home-field advantage. But if this poll is at all reliable, it looks like it will be competitive.

Sheheen campaign objects to use of governor’s mansion


I got this release from Andrew Whalen with the Sheheen campaign today.

Of course, if you “sign the petition” expressing your indignation at Nikki Haley using the governor’s mansion for fund-raising, the Sheheen campaign will have your contact info. So they can solicit you for campaign funds. And stuff.

Anyway, here it is:

Nikki Haley is at it again. She and the South Carolina GOP are shamelessly selling access to the Governor’s mansion grounds. This time literally. That’s just wrong.

In a few weeks, Nikki and her friends will be opening the gates and hosting an “exclusive reception” on the grounds — not for official business, but to raise cash to support her re-election.

Listen, if this doesn’t sit right with you, you’re not alone. Seems to me that using the Governor’s mansion grounds for a campaign fundraiser, at best, violates the spirit of the state’s ethics laws. If you agree, add your name to our online petition and tell Nikki Haley that you are tired of her using government property for campaign purposes. Add your name here >>

This isn’t the first time Nikki has blurred the lines of what’s legal in South Carolina – flying campaign staff on state planes, using state vehicles to pick up out-of-state campaign cash, hiding income. The list goes on and on. We deserve better. South Carolina deserves someone who doesn’t have to cover things up or blur lines to preserve their political career.

If you agree it’s time for new leadership in South Carolina, add your name to our online petition right now.

Thanks for standing with us,


Campaign Manager
Sheheen for South Carolina

Also, there’s a blue “contribute” button at the bottom of the email. Just in case…

‘Power Failure’ problems still plague South Carolina

Yesterday, at Jack Van Loan‘s gathering for Steve Benjamin, the mayor at one point — in talking about the strong-mayor system — invoked “Power Failure.”

He does that frequently when I’m around, which causes me to think he does it to flatter me. But he always does it relevantly. For those who don’t know what “Power Failure” was, a brief description that I put together recently:

South Carolina is different. It took me about three years of close observation to understand how it was different. I realized it toward the end of the incredible summer of 1990, when one-tenth of the Legislature was indicted, the head of the highway patrol resigned under pressure after helping the head of the local FBI office (which was investigating the Legislature) with a DUI, the president of the University of South Carolina resigned after a series of scandals, and… well, there were two or three other major stories of malfunction and corruption in state government, all at the same time. Under my direction, The State’s political reporters stayed ahead of all the competition that summer, and broke at least one story that even the feds didn’t know about. All this fed into my determination to explain just why our state government was so fouled up. There were reasons, and they were reasons that were peculiar to South Carolina, but they were invisible to most citizens.

I proposed to The State’s senior management that they let me undertake a special project that would let the voters in on the secret. They agreed, and turned the resources of the newsroom over to me to use as I needed them for the “Power Failure” project. Over the course of a year, 17 multi-page installments and more than 100 stories, we explained why ours was the state government that answered to no one. And we set out a blueprint for fixing it.

That helped lead, the following year, to a major government restructuring, creating a cabinet system and giving the governor actual control over a significant portion of the executive branch. It didn’t go nearly far enough. Only about a third of the government, measured by share of the budget, answers to the elected chief executive. But it was a start…

As it happens, I had occasion today to look back at a reprint of the series, and I continue to be struck by how relevant it remains.

The series was about much more than the fact that the state’s executive branch was governed by a bewildering array of boards and commissions that answered to no one. It was about more than making the governor accountable. It went into problems with local government, the judiciary, and other aspects of government at all levels.

The sad thing is that while that reprint is old and yellowed, being 21 years old, so much of what it described remains unchanged.

I was reminded of that in this morning’s paper. We see that a Nikki Haley ally is planning to run against Glenn McConnell for lieutenant governor next year. This is portrayed as a sort of dress-rehearsal for 2018, when the governor and lieutenant governor will run together on a single ticket. That is a tiny, tiny movement toward the “Power Failure” recommendation that we stop electing all these constitutional officers separately from the governor.

Meanwhile, the bill to replace the Budget and Control Board with a Department of Administration answering to the governor hovers out there, and maybe, maybe it will actually be enacted in the next legislative session. Nikki Haley has been pushing hard for that since entering office. Rival Vincent Sheheen has been pushing for it longer than that, and he still is doing so. From a Sheheen op-ed last week:

Government restructuring is Job No. 1


Posted: Thursday, October 3, 2013 12:01 a.m.

Post & Courier·

  • It’s time to take another giant step in reforming South Carolina’s state government to improve accountability for the hardworking people of our state.

Over the last few years, South Carolina has gone backwards in so many areas — we’re now one of the toughest places in the nation to earn a living and achieve the American dream, while our government has failed on its most basic functions. But one of the places where we are moving forward is in modernizing our state government in an effort to improve accountability.

Last year, I introduced S. 22, a restructuring bill to overhaul and reform South Carolina’s legislative and executive branches. I worked across the aisle to ensure the bill speedily passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support. Then it was altered and passed late in the session by the House of Representatives.

A conference committee has been appointed to hammer out the differences in anticipation of the upcoming session. So now we have an exciting opportunity to reconcile the two versions and make history for our state….

Actually, you should probably go read the whole thing, at the Post and Courier.

The reprint is old and yellowed, but we’re still struggling along with the same problems. Still, let’s celebrate what we can. I for one am thankful that both Haley and Sheheen back reform, and that maybe this one change is about to happen. Beyond that, there’s a lot more work to do.

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.