S.C. Rep. Nikki Haley – who waited until 5:00 p.m. on the day before the GOP runoff election to disclose tens of thousands of dollars that she received from a company with business before the state of South Carolina – now wants to make income disclosure mandatory for all Palmetto public officials.
“To remove conflicts of interest from the legislative process, legislators should disclose the sources of all their income,” Haley said. “That way, both the legislator and the public know exactly when and why a legislator should recuse him or herself from a particular vote or process.”
From 2007-09, Haley received $42,500 from a local engineering firm with multiple state contracts – ostensibly due to her “good contacts.” She failed to disclose any of this income until a week before her GOP runoff with U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett, when her 2009 tax returns revealed $2,000 worth of income from the company. Then – just hours before voters went to the polls – Haley released her 2007 and 2008 tax returns, which showed an additional $40,500 worth of income from the company, Wilbur Smith Associates.
Haley’s income disclosure proposal is part of her “Taking Our Government Back” plan, which was unveiled Thursday.
Other key parts of the proposal include Haley’s signature issue of “on-the-record” voting, a spending cap for the state’s general fund, term limits for state lawmakers and a recycling of S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford’s government old restructuring plans – which call for the elimination of the S.C. Budget and Control Board and the gubernatorial appointment of several independently elected offices.
Unlike Haley’s economic and education proposals, which were utterly abysmal, her government reform proposals represent a comprehensive look at several serious problems facing state government – and a nice batch of solutions to fix them (or at least start fixing them).
Haley needs to be much more specific – and ambitious – when it comes to her government restructuring plans (she’s currently not saying which constitutional offices she wants to put in the gubernatorial Cabinet, for example), and she also needs to add an online checkbook to her list of transparency initiatives.
But her plan is a good start – and a welcome departure from the status quo nonsense she’s been spewing since she won the GOP nomination.