The “Savannah River Sellout” – a.k.a. Gov. Nikki Haley’s recent betrayal of South Carolina’s economic and environmental interests – continues rolling along.
Like a river to the sea, even.
The latest chapter? A report by WIS TV 10 (NBC – Columbia, S.C.) which exposes Haley’s cozy connections to the board members of the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) – all of whom voted earlier this month to overturn the agency’s prior objections to a controversial environmental permit for the Port of Savannah.
From the report:
Flight records show Gov. Haley flew on DHEC board member Kenyon Wells’ plane to the Georgia-South Carolina football game on Sept. 10. Onboard were Wells, his wife, the governor and Michael Haley, three governor staffers and a SLED agent.
Gov. Haley’s flight logs also show DHEC Chairman Allen Amsler loaned the governor his plane to fly to Georgetown for a fundraiser.
That flight came exactly one month before DHEC would approve the Savannah port permit …
… The flight records show both men provided at least five flights between April and October, even during the time DHEC worked out Georgia’s dredging permit details.
“This is just rotten,” S.C. Rep. Leon Stavrinakis (D-Charleston) said.
Actually, the fact that Haley appointed wealthy donors who flew her around on their private jets is old news. In fact, the State Ethics Commission had to pass a new rule in the wake of Haley’s multiple scandals on this front.
What’s worth exploring is whether Haley pressured the board into making this decision (she clearly pressured them into revisiting the issue) – and whether that pressure was applied because Haley received financial and/ or political favors from moneyed interests in Georgia.
Remember … this is a governor who was gung-ho anti-Georgia for months. Why did she change her tune so quickly? And why did several years of state policy (and over a year of SCDHEC policy) get overturned in a matter of hours?
Somebody’s got some explaining to do … but the governor and her staff clearly aren’t in an explaining mood.
Regardless of the extent of Haley’s sellout, though, the fact remains that South Carolina’s best interests have been thoroughly compromised with little to no explanation as to why.
As S.C. Sen. Tom Davis has made abundantly clear, the SCDHEC decision is a death knell for the Jasper Port project – effectively guaranteeing that our state’s most precious competitive asset (and the last remaining deepwater port site on the Eastern Seaboard) will be used as a spoil site for Georgia’s sludge for the next fifty years.
On Tuesday, Davis blasted Haley for claiming that the SCDHEC deal with Georgia will be “good for Jasper.”
“She says this deal is good for Jasper?” Davis asked incredulously. “They’re going to dump spoil on the site for the next half of a century – in what universe is that good for Jasper?”
In addition to agreeing to accept Georgia’s sludge, Haley’s deal has also weakened the Port of Charleston’s competitive position and guaranteed that U.S. taxpayers will be on the hook for Savannah’s expansion.
And for what?
Because she wants us to do “what’s best for the region?”
Charleston has been getting its ass kicked up and down the Eastern Seaboard for the better part of the last decade, people. We need a governor who recognizes that the key to reversing that trend is to empower free market port expansion in South Carolina – not paving the way for taxpayer-funded expansion in Georgia.