ANOTHER SCANDAL ROCKS NIKKI HALEY’S TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT
Over the last few years, 2011 “Taxpayer Hero” Sarah Nuckles has been the lone voice of reason at the S.C. Department of Transportation (SCDOT) – one of the Palmetto State’s most notoriously corrupt, woefully mismanaged government agencies.
Where others (including S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley) have pushed shady deals and federal bailouts – Nuckles has demanded responsible, transparent decision-making based on real needs as opposed to political favor-trading (you know … the sort of thing that was supposed to happen when Republicans “reformed” this agency in 2007).
Unfortunately, Nuckles has been shouted down by Haley and her appointees to this agency … who prefer the status quo to real reform.
“Aside from its sprawling bureaucracy, SCDOT’s basic problem is that powerful political interests – not the public’s interests – are determining the appropriation of highway resources,” we wrote earlier this year. “Not surprisingly, the result is that money gets blown on totally unnecessary projects while roads and bridges fall into disrepair.”
As evidence, SCDOT chose last summer to maintain its bloated bureaucracy (and send its top bureaucrats on taxpayer-funded junkets) while South Carolina contractors got stiffed for work they had already done. The agency has also lied or stonewalled when public officials like S.C. Treasurer Curtis Loftis sought the truth regarding its abysmal financial situation.
The latest scandal to befall this corrupt agency? A shocking report by Corey Hutchins in The (Columbia, S.C.) Free Times which reveals that SCDOT performed “free work at a ritzy private community” after being pressured to do so by a pair of state lawmakers.
“The S.C. Department of Transportation directed workers to inspect three private bridges inside an affluent gated golf community in Aiken at the apparent urging of elected officials in the area, including two state lawmakers,” Hutchins reports. “The bridges were not part of any public road system. An internal DOT audit report obtained by Free Times reveals that even employees didn’t want to perform the inspections because they felt that doing it was wrong.”
Um … ya think?
It is wrong.
Not only that … Hutchins’ report reveals that the lawmakers got involved on this project after receiving a request from an Aiken City Councilman who lives inside the gated community. Oh … and once again the agency is stonewalling reporters seeking information via the S.C. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Amazing isn’t it?
Haley’s SCDOT – which had to beg Barack Obama for the money to stay afloat last summer – used its resources to do unauthorized political favors for GOP lawmakers. And they’re now trying to cover up the scam.
So much for accountability … so much for transparency … again.
Heads should roll over this scandal … unfortunately, the only head that’s on the chopping block at the moment is Nuckles, whose term on the board is about to expire.
South Carolina taxpayers are getting bent over at SCDOT – and Nuckles has been the only one doing anything about it.
If Haley truly cared about reforming this corrupt, incompetent bureaucracy, she would demand the resignation of its current Secretary immediately and appoint Nuckles to his post. Of course that’s not going to happen, because as she’s proven on numerous other fronts Haley’s commitment to real transparency and real accountability in state government is nonexistent.