S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley’s “jobs agency” has consistently been among the most inefficient and ineffective agencies in her administration – a cost that has keeps being passed on to South Carolina businesses and taxpayers.  Now that agency – the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW) – is reportedly engaging in efforts to intimidate one of the few state lawmakers who is seeking to hold it accountable.

According to our sources, S.C. Senator Kevin Bryant (R-Anderson) was recently threatened by the agency after he exposed one example of its wasteful practices.  One of the few consistent fiscal conservatives in the S.C. General Assembly, Bryant is a member of the legislative committee that has oversight of this agency – and has emerged in recent years as one of its staunchest critics.

During a recent public hearing Bryant raised the case of an employee who was awarded jobless benefits despite being terminated from his position for using a company cell phone to make a “booty call.”

Bryant never released the name of the employee, but within minutes of the conclusion of the hearing he was reportedly confronted by a Senate staffer bearing ominous news from SCDEW.  According to the staffer, the agency warned him that the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) – SCDEW’s parent agency – was aware of a “violation of federal law” committed by Bryant during the hearing.   The alleged violation?  An “improper release of identifiable information” related to an unemployment claim.

The feds also reportedly objected to a Tweet that Bryant sent out about the claim in which he noted that a claimant received “full benefits” despite making a “booty call” on the job.

Nikki Haley and SCDEW director Abraham Turner.

So … let’s get this straight:  Within minutes of Bryant’s public hearing (and within an hour of his tweet), a federal agency was already breathing down his neck?

“I find it really hard to believe that the federal government is following me on Twitter,” Bryant told FITS.  “I’d like to think I’m that popular, but I find that very hard to believe.”

So what prompted the harassing call to the Senate staffer?  According to our sources at SCDEW, the agency was attempting to back Bryant off of his investigation.  In fact, the entire incident (including a call to the USDOL) was said to have been initiated by the governor’s office.

Undeterred, Bryant tells FITS that he is preparing a committee report on the status of the state’s unemployment benefit payments.

“If they would enforce the law as written we would be looking at a significant savings to the businesses that are being forced to pay this tax,” Bryant said.

How significant?

“A double digit percentage,” he told us.

Wow … that’s sad, but not surprising (at least for FITS readers).  Our website has been writing for months about the rampant corruption and incompetence at this agency – which was supposedly “reformed” in 2011 – but not a single reporter in the mainstream press has picked up the story.

After being exposed in a scathing audit released by the S.C. Legislative Audit Council (SCLAC) earlier this year,  SCDEW was recently placed on alert by the feds for its incompetence.  How bad are things at SCDEW?  As we’ve reported on numerous previous occasions, one out of every five dollars in unemployment benefits doled out in South Carolina is awarded erroneously – the eighth-highest percentage in the nation.

Obviously that’s a big problem in a state that also has one of the highest unemployment rates in America – and our sources at the agency say that its leaders have been deliberately doling out some of these improper benefits.  Also worth noting?  The SCLAC audit revealed that South Carolinians who use the agency’s reemployment services take an average of 26.5 weeks to get off of the public dole.  Those who do not use SCDEW took only 22.3 weeks – which means that jobless South Carolinians are better off steering clear of this agency.

What is SCDEW doing about all of this (beyond threatening a State Senator, anyway)?  That’s easy: Nothing … and more nothing.

Way to go, Haley administration …