Major SC Economic Development Scandal Brewing
In announcing her intention to seek a second term as South Carolina’s governor, Nikki Haley boasted that her administration had announced new jobs “in 45 of 46 counties” in the Palmetto State.
Never mind that most of these jobs are being paid for with tax dollars (a.k.a. picking winners and losers in the marketplace), and never mind that many more jobs are being lost every day in all forty-six counties (just look at South Carolina’s plummeting labor participation rate).
Still, it’s a good sound bite for Haley … and it’s about to get better.
Just days before Haley’s scheduled reelection kickoff in Greenville, S.C., her Commerce Department announced that 500 new jobs were coming to Fairfield County – the one county where Haley has yet to bribe, err bring in new jobs. In addition to these mostly low-income positions, the company – TV manufacturer Element Electronics – has also agreed to invest $7.5 million in exchange for an undisclosed amount of taxpayer-funded subsidies.
“A great day in South Carolina,” right?
“We welcome Element Electronics to South Carolina’s business community and celebrate the company’s decision to invest $7.5 million and create 500 new jobs in Fairfield County. Today’s announcement is another indication that we are doing the right things to attract job-creating investments here in South Carolina,” Haley said.
And on Monday – when Haley makes her reelection bid official – she can now proudly proclaim that she has announced jobs in “all forty-six South Carolina counties.”
There’s only one small problem with this happy tale …
As it turns out one rural South Carolina county’s gain is another’s loss – specifically, Sumter County’s loss. For Haley to make her “every county” claim, Sumter got shafted.
According to multiple sources on the ground in Sumter, at the Commerce Department and in manufacturing industry circles, Haley’s Commerce Department deliberately steered these 500 jobs away from a site in Sumter to a similar location in Fairfield County.
“She f*cked Sumter to make Fairfield the forty-sixth county to land jobs,” one irate local leader told FITS.
Another source claims the governor’s office manipulated the state’s taxpayer-funded incentives process to steer the company from Sumter to Fairfield.
“They got a better deal to choose the Fairfield location,” the source claims.
Commerce sources tell FITS pressure was also applied regarding the timing of the announcement – so Haley could make the “every county” claim in her reelection kickoff speech.
This website has repeatedly argued against government intervention in the private sector – and crap like this is why. There’s no excuse for government to bribe companies – or for politicians to manipulate that process in search of a campaign sound bite.
And while Haley has succeeded in lining up her “jobs in every county” quote, the political calculus on her decision could prove problematic. After all, there are more votes in Sumter than there are in Fairfield.