SHARKS IN SUITS, PEOPLE …
S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley’s much-ballyhooed government restructuring legislation has devolved into one hot mess. Having failed in her effort to cut a backroom deal with S.C. Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman a year ago, Haley is now attempting to brand herself as a real reformer standing up for efficient, accountable government.
The only problem?
She and her fellow “Republicans” at the S.C. State House have already rejected real reform – shooting down an amendment that would have eliminated the state’s outdated S.C. Budget and Control Board (SCBCB) and transferred its authority to the governor’s office.
In fact, Haley’s office actually lobbied against that reform.
Why does this matter? Well, the SCBCB is a vast, unaccountable bureaucracy that administers a wide swath of executive branch functions – only it isn’t controlled by the executive branch. Instead, the board is comprised of three independently elected officials and a pair of legislative leaders – which is why critics (including this website) have frequently referred to it as a “five-headed monster.”
In a state which desperately needs accountability and efficiency, the SCBCB promotes neither. Instead it advances splintered, wasteful government … and all sorts of corruption. Unfortunately, rather than push for meaningful reform Haley instead chose to play footsie with the status quo.
Why did she do that?
Easy … the money’s on the other side.
In fact, we’re now beginning to learn just how beholden Haley really is to our state’s special interests.
Specifically, sources within the governor’s office tell FITS that key sections of Haley’s controversial government restructuring legislation are actually being written by the special interests which would be impacted by the changes.
The goal of these special interests? To make sure that their gravy trains keeps flowing, naturally.
Wait … wait?
Isn’t this the governor who led a movement to “take government back?” Does she really have special interest lobbyists writing her “reform” legislation?
In one glaring case, we’re told that the law firm of Haynesworth Sinkler Boyd – which has extensive business with the state’s Jobs-Economic Development Authority (JEDA) – was permitted to draft the section of the restructuring legislation that deals with this particular agency.
For those of you unfamiliar with JEDA, it’s yet another way that state government picks winners and losers in the economy with your money. According to the agency’s 2011 annual report, “JEDA has issued 23 bonds during the past year, helping to provide $542.6 million in funding in 10 counties across the state.” The agency claims those bond issues “helped keep 15,896 people in their jobs” while creating another 842 new jobs.
“Since its creation in 1983, JEDA has issued nearly $7.5 billion in bonds that have resulted in the creation or retention of 197,131 jobs,” the report boasts.
Wow … of course many more jobs would have been “created or retained” had this money been doled out in the form of tax relief to small businesses and individual income earners over that time period (or loaned on the basis of private sector standards – not government favor-trading).
Anyway … guess who handles JEDA’s bond business? You guessed it … Haynesworth Sinkler Boyd. In fact the business nets the law firm millions of dollars each year.
Translation? Haley’s administration is letting the primary beneficiary of this agency’s operations write its restructuring legislation.
Not only that, our sources say that such insider allegiance is running “rampant” within the Haley administration not only with regard to this legislation, but with other executive decisions as well.
Amazing … apparently Haley’s definition of “reform” is every bit as hypocritical as her definition of transparency.