“PAY TO SAY” SCANDAL UNCOVERED AT SOUTH CAROLINA’S “ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT” AGENCY
S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley’s Department of Commerce has paid tens of thousands of tax dollars to various trade magazines – which in turn have written glowing features on the governor while showering the agency with “awards.”
Pretty cozy, huh? All from a “Tea Party” governor who campaigned on letting the private sector – not government – take the lead on job creation.
According to The Nerve, a Columbia, S.C. political website, Commerce has spent “at least $170,000” on advertising and direct payments to numerous economic development publications including Trade & Industry Development, Area Development, Business Facilities, Site Selection, Chief Executive and Southern Business & Development.
Several of these magazines have in turn given the Palmetto State awards for various taxpayer-funded economic development deals, and one of those magazines praised Haley as being “wise beyond her years when it comes to the practice of economic development.”
Is she, though?
As this website has exhaustively reported, South Carolina’s reliance on taxpayer-funded incentives has shifted the state’s tax burden onto small businesses and owners of rental property – costing our state’s jobs. Compounding the problem? South Carolina has one of the worst records of any state when it comes to monitoring the effectiveness of these incentives.
Obviously none of these bought-and-paid-for publications mentioned any of that …
More recently, Haley’s Commerce Department used at least $500,000 in tax dollars to help secure a new rental tenant for The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper – which owns a half-empty building in an unincorporated section of Richland County. The paper’s publisher, Henry Haitz, has repeatedly declined to discuss how much money his paper stands to make off of the deal.
As we’ve said all along, we do not believe government should spend tax money to pick winners and losers in the free market economy (or what’s left of it). What should it do? Maintain (or in South Carolina’s case create) a competitive tax and regulatory climate that fairly promotes job growth, capital investment and elevated income levels across all sectors of the economy.
Is that what’s happening in our state?
But according to these publications, it’s a “great day in South Carolina” regardless.