S.C. Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler is facing withering criticism from fiscal liberals within his “Republican” caucus after stroking a $25,000 check on their behalf to State Rep. Nikki Haley.
The contribution from the S.C. Senate Republican Caucus was made on August 19 – but it wasn’t revealed until last week, when candidates for statewide office published their quarterly campaign finance disclosures.
Peeler’s decision to stroke Haley a check – which he apparently made unilaterally – is said to have enraged Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman, Senate President Glenn McConnell and Senate Rules Chairman Larry Martin, three of the chamber’s most liberal (and most powerful) members.
Haley’s campaign is allowed to receive up to $50,000 from the S.C. Republican Party and its affiliated legislative caucuses. In addition to the $25,000 check from the Senate Caucus, she received a $25,000 check from the SCGOP on October 11. The S.C. House Republican Caucus did not give Haley any money, and is now prohibited from doing so.
Frankly, we’re surprised to see Peeler sticking his neck out like this on Haley’s behalf. Last we heard, he was furious with the Lexington lawmaker after she excluded him from her efforts to pass transparency legislation (to read more about the battle for credit that is being waged just below the surface of the fight for transparency, click here).
That strategy didn’t pay off for Haley, obviously, as her transparency bill passed the House last year but was blocked in the Senate.
In fact the Senate debate was unusually contentious, with McConnell referring to transparency as a “fad” and mocking supporters as simpletons who failed to grasp the complexities of parliamentary procedure.
He was later excoriated for those remarks by State Sen. Tom Davis.
Incidentally, McConnell’s brother – Charleston County GOP activist Sam McConnell – is one of the leaders of a Republican group that is currently challenging Haley on a wide range of issues.