Somewhere, Marie Antoinette is blushing …
The famed French Queen – who is miscredited with uttering the expression “let them eat cake” – apparently has nothing on South Carolina’s Queen Nimrata Randhawa (a.k.a. Nikki Haley). According to Associated Press reporter Jim Davenport, Haley routinely has her ethically-challenged taxpayer-funded chef bake cakes to celebrate the birthdays of her youthful staffers.
“We have two staff birthdays that we are going to celebrate tomorrow,” an aide to Haley emailed gubernatorial chef Geoff Sandifer on August 10, according to Davenport’s story. “The governor would like to have 2 different cakes for them.”
The aide also had a specific request for Haley chief of staff Tim Pearson, who according to the aide “doesn’t like desert except for pumpkin pie.”
“Let’s do a pumpkin pie for Tuesday!” the aide emailed Sandifer.
(To read Davenport’s story in its entirety, click here).
Last week, Davenport uncovered that Haley’s chef was using taxpayer resources to promote his catering business. He also exposed efforts by S.C. First Gentleman Michael Haley to build a climate-controlled wine cellar at the Governor’s Mansion in an effort to accommodate all of the incoming alcohol being donated by one of the governor’s political appointees.
Each of these stories was unearthed using information obtained from taxpayer-funded emails. Given Haley’s recently-revealed policy of destroying public records, however, it’s not clear whether reporters will be able to expose these sorts of scams for much longer. As we’ve noted previously, that’s what makes Haley’s hypocritical lack of transparency so troubling … and potentially so costly.
It didn’t take long for Haley’s latest embarrassment to start lighting up the Palmetto political internets.
One Democratic operative, Tyler Jones, took to his Twitter page and began compiling a list of “people who won’t get cake from Nikki Haley.”
While Haley’s decision to subsidize the sweet teeth of her overpaid staffers is presumably legal (and obviously doesn’t cost taxpayers much money), it’s a public relations disaster – particularly coming on the heels of the wine cellar revelation.
Both stories make Haley appear to be out of touch with the ordinary South Carolinians … sort of like when former S.C. Gov. Jim Hodges was busted dining on Chilean sea bass and other delicacies at the governor’s mansion during the post-9/11 economic downturn.
UPDATE: Our founding editor Will Folks is chiming in on the “cake policy” under the administration of former S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford, where he worked from 2003-05. “We had a cake fund, a coffee fund and a snack fund that all staffers had to contribute to,” Folks said. “We paid for these sorts of things out of our own pockets.”