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After initially promising to provide documentation for her bizarre claim regarding drug use among job applicants at the Savannah River Site (SRS), S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley has now totally backed down from her controversial comments.

“I’ve never felt like I had to back up what people tell me,” the embattled governor told reporter Jim Davenport of the Associated Press (one of her few remaining ‘go-to guys’ in the local lamestream media).

“You assume that you’re given good information,” Haley continued. “And now I’m learning through (the press) that I have to be careful before I say something.”

Last Thursday, Haley told a Rotary Club in Lexington, S.C. that half of the people who applied for jobs at the U.S. Department of Energy facility failed a drug test … while the other half were illiterate.

“Down on River Site, they were hiring a few hundred people, and when we sat down and talked to them – this was back before the campaign – when we sat down and talked to them, they said of everybody they interviewed, half of them failed a drug test, and of the half that was left, of that 50 percent, the other half couldn’t read and write properly,” Haley told the group.

The only problem with that statement (other than the fact it violated Haley’s “speak no ill of SC” rule)?

It was patently false.

“Half the people who applied for a job last year or year 2009 did not fail the drug test,” an SRS spokesman told The Huffington Post – the website which first broke the story. “At the peak of hiring under the Recovery Act we had less than 1 percent of those hired test positive.”

The spokesman added that SRS doesn’t even drug test applicants – it only tests those people it winds up hiring.

Haley’s office refused to respond to the Post‘s request for comment, but on September 10 Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey told a local paper – The Aiken Standard – that the governor stood by her statements and would be providing documentation for her claim.

“The statistics came from an SRS contractor who was involved in hiring folks working on the site,” Godfrey told the paper a week ago. “It has been reaffirmed that they had a significant failure rate — for both reading and writing and drug testing — from applicants in South Carolina counties, and the actual numbers will be delivered to us next week.”

Of course Godfrey was nowhere to be found a week later – and phone calls from the paper on September 17 “seeking clarification on whether actual statistics ever existed and the identity of the personnel who Haley said she met with” were not returned.

Now, Haley is telling the Associated Press that the man who made the statement can’t back it up.

“Now they’re all backing off saying it,” Haley told the AP. “Now they don’t have the backup.”

How convenient, right?

Meanwhile, adding a “government transparency” wrinkle to this latest Haley debacle, The Aiken Standard quoted an SRS official as saying that the record of email exchanges between the governor’s office and the U.S. Department of Energy were “being kept private.”

Sheesh … is this the most incompetent, hypocritical administration this state has ever seen or what?

Obviously this isn’t the first time Haley has been caught in a lie. In fact, “Trikki Nikki” been caught fibbing so many times since taking office (click here, here, here, here, here and here for a few examples) that she’s actually managed to make our attention-starved founding editor seem credible by comparison. And when Haley isn’t lying, she’s flip-flopping, obfuscating or attempting to bury the truth – all of which runs counter to her “transparency” promises.

Haley’s aversion to the truth might be marginally more palatable if she were living  up to her “Tea Party” roots, but she’s been a disaster on that front as well – approving multiple bailouts, doling out exorbitant raises to her staff and signing off on the largest spending plan in state history.

The missteps are taking their toll, too.

According to a Public Policy Polling survey released earlier this month, only 41 percent of South Carolina voters approve of the job Haley is doing. Meanwhile 43 percent disapprove. Needless to say those are awful numbers for a politician who hasn’t even been on the job for a year.

Haley has also had several major missteps since that poll was released. Most notably, she responded to a devastating report in the state’s largest  newspaper by referring to the reporter who wrote it as a “little girl.” She’s also seen the state’s unemployment rate climb above 11 percent – and was busted skipping two days of work to take her staff on an exclusive retreat.

How low can Nikki go?

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