S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley’s office misled multiple state lawmakers as she sought their support for a legal motion backing her authority to call an emergency session of the S.C. General Assembly.
Haley’s attempt to force lawmakers back to Columbia, S.C. was shot down on Monday by the S.C. Supreme Court – although her administration’s full-court press to rally lawmakers to her side has provided yet another case study of the governor playing fast and loose with the truth.
One of these lawmakers, S.C. Sen. Mike Rose (R-Summerville), went public with his concerns on Monday – saying that the governor’s office deliberately misled him regarding the position of S.C. Sen Tom Davis (R-Beaufort).
“I was specifically told that Senator Davis had signed onto (the motion),” Rose told FITS. “That was a big part of my decision because I know from a legal standpoint Senator Davis would have done his homework on this.”
Not only that, but Davis has been fighting to strengthen Haley’s watered down bill by insisting that lawmakers abolish the S.C. Budget and Control Board – a quasi-executive, quasi-legislative agency that currently manages most of the executive branch of government.
“Any version of the Department of Administration bill that does include the elimination of the Budget and Control Board is not a worthwhile reform,” Davis said. “Let’s be clear: this bill must abolish the Budget and Control Board. Anything short of that would be a huge mistake and a missed opportunity.”
In sharp contrast to her campaign rhetoric in support of that position, Haley has been aggressively lobbying behind the scenes to preserve the board – part of a backroom deal she cut with S.C. Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman (RINO-Florence).
Obviously Haley’s refusal to stand and fight for real reform is unfortunate – but it’s her ongoing duplicity that’s really troubling.
On Tuesday, a pair of Republican State Senators told FITS that they were also misled by Haley’s office regarding Davis’ position – although neither was willing to give his name for fear of political retribution. A fourth state Senator may have also been misled.
One Senator – Kevin Bryant (R-Anderson) – said that Haley’s office made no representation to him regarding Davis’ position. However, his position on the legal merits of the case shifted dramatically in a very short period of time. On Thursday, Bryant told FITS that Senate President Glenn McConnell “is (the) only one who can call us back.” On Monday, though, Bryant permitted his name to be used on Haley’s lawsuit – which argued the opposite view.
According to Bryant, an opinion from S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson “made me think there might be another possibility.”
Davis confirmed to FITS on Monday that he never told the governor, nor her staffers nor her emissaries that he would join her legal motion – which the Supreme Court rejected by a 3-2 vote.
In fact, in a statement released yesterday, Davis clearly stated that he believed the decision should be left exclusively up to the court.
“As for the legal arguments surrounding Gov. Haley’s authority to call lawmakers into a special session in the middle of a two-week recess, that is a question (for) the South Carolina Supreme Court to answer based on its interpretation of the South Carolina Constitution,” Davis wrote. “That is the branch of state government authorized to resolve separation of power issues like this.”
Haley’s deception regarding this legal motion may have also spread to the S.C. House of Representatives, where several lawmakers say that they were misled regarding who did – and didn’t – agree to let the governor use their names. One House member’s name may have been added to Haley’s motion without permission – which if true could have serious legal repercussions.
As we’ve said all along, we have no problem with Haley forcing lawmakers back to Columbia. They clearly accomplished absolutely nothing over the last five months – and from a purely political standpoint it was a brilliant move on Haley’s part (at least in the short term).
Our problem is that Haley – who had anemic first legislative session (despite the low bar she set for herself) – is desperately trying to snatch a political victory at the expense of real reform.
“(Restructuring) is worthwhile only if it is done completely,” the editorial writers at the Spartanburg Herald-Journal wrote recently. “The bill must abolish the Budget and Control Board and put all its executive functions in the Governor’s Office. A bill that moves some or most of those functions into the Governor’s Office is likely to put others under more boards or commissions appointed by lawmakers. That would be a mistake. It would be remodeling state government, not reforming it.”
We agree completely – which is why we’ve been supporting this very reform for years. In fact, we supported an amendment to the House restructuring bill earlier this year that would have handed the Board’s power over to the governor – but Haley lobbied against it, and as a result only seven Republican lawmakers supported it.