Nikki Haley’s Nephron Deal: Pay To Play?
S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley is welcoming Nephron Pharmaceuticals to South Carolina this week – although her connection with the company’s top brass is raising questions.
According to The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper, Nephron is bringing 300 jobs to Cayce, S.C. In exchange for those positions, the firm is receiving an undisclosed amount of taxpayer-funded incentives from state and local governments. Nephron may also be in line to receive preferential treatment from the state’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
What kind of treatment, you may ask?
Well, the company attempted to get on the state’s preferred drug list for Medicaid prior to Haley’s election – but was unsuccessful in doing so. Wonder if they’ll encounter any resistance now that Haley is in charge of the agency? Prior to founding Nephron, William Kennedy founded a durable medical equipment company called Rotech – a company with a history of shady business dealings.
Why does this matter? Well, just last month Haley flew on a private jet owned by Nephron to attend her controversial fundraiser in Dallas, Texas. The company may have also provided Haley with air travel to meet U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio in Florida last year.
Can anybody say quid pro quo?
Nephron will be locating in the same industrial facility where Amazon.com is building its new distribution center – which raises an interesting dilemma for Haley. Specifically, what is her position on taxpayer-funded incentives these days? She railed against them when it came to Amazon – although she later let those incentives become law without her signature.
Clearly she has no problem doling them out now …
As we reported earlier this week, government-funded incentives are creating a growing tax burden for small businesses and individual taxpayers in South Carolina – i.e. the very constituencies Haley pledged to support during her campaign.
As we’ve stated on numerous occasions, we opposed the Amazon deal – just as we will oppose any effort on the part of government to provide selective, speculative incentives with our tax dollars. We believe government should focus its economic development efforts on broad-based tax relief that stimulates consumer activity and job growth among small businesses – not special interest handouts.
We thought that’s what Haley believed, too … but in addition to doling out these incentives deals like candy, she’s actually going on the warpath against those who oppose them.
UPDATE: Looks like The State newspaper got the numbers wrong. According to the S.C. Department of Commerce, Nephron’s announcement will bring 707 jobs to Lexington County – more than twice what the newspaper projected. The capital investment associated with the deal is estimated at $313 million.