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FEDERAL INVESTIGATION, HALEY ADMINISTRATION MANIPULATION ALLEGED

Three years ago this website began investigating the S.C. Department of Social Services (SCDSS) – the agency that manages broad swaths of the Palmetto State’s welfare economy.

Using our network of anonymous sources it didn’t take long to discover that SCDSS – led by S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley appointee Lillian Koller – was a royal mess. For example, the agency has botched the oft-delayed implementation of a child support enforcement database – and dropped the ball regarding a food stamp waiver touted by Haley in her so-called “war on fat.”

Those are two costly mistakes …

More critically, we uncovered questionable consultant payments at SCDSS – as well as allegations of cooked books at its “welfare to work” program (as well as its food stamp system).

The welfare-to-work allegations are especially sensitive to Haley, who has made this program a centerpiece of her reelection efforts.

As if all of that weren’t enough, then there’s the real tragedy … the blood on this agency’s hands after it placed children into abusive homes despite repeated warnings not to do so.

That’s what has landed this agency – and Koller – in the hot seat.

Any governor with a brain would have fired Koller a long time ago – especially seeing as she has repeatedly refused to testify at legislative hearings into these allegations.

Yet Haley continues to defend her …

This week, a shocking report from Porter Barron, Jr. at The (Columbia, S.C.) Free Times shows Haley has done more than that … her administration has actively interfered in legislative investigations.

“(S)taffers for Gov. Nikki Haley asked Republican senators to soft-pedal their investigation of the Department of Social Services so as not to make the governor look bad,” Barron notes.

According to Barron, Haley chief of staff Ted Pitts and legislative liaison Katherine Veldran “admonished Republican senators against making the governor look bad with their probe into the agency.”

“The Haley staffers met with Republican senators on a subcommittee investigating Child Protective Services in the wake of their first hearing in October,” Barron reports. “Pitts and Veldran allegedly told Senators Katrina Shealy and Tom Young to avoid embarrassing Haley or hurting her chances of re-election in the course of their hearings.”

FITS has independently confirmed the accuracy of these statements.

It’s one thing to colossally screw up an agency so that millions of dollars are being wasted (and children are dying). It’s something else to interfere in an investigation into those abuses because of a desire not to “make the governor look bad.”

That’s positively Nixonian.

We’ve already called on Koller to be fired for her incompetence and corruption – but Pitts and Veldran’s efforts to cover up her scandals are every bit as reprehensible.

And to think this is from the so-called “most transparent administration” in state history …