A spokesperson for Lexington Medical Center – the hospital that employed then-S.C. Rep. Nikki Haley as a high-priced fundraiser between 2008-10 – says Haley never lobbied the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) on behalf of its proposed heart center.
Questions arose about Haley’s role at the hospital after FITS published a September 2008 email exchange between Haley and hospital CEO Mike Biediger. The exchange seemed to indicate that her job responsibilities had extended beyond the realm of fund-raising and into the realm of lobbying (which would obviously be illegal).
Haley is already under fire for income discrepancies in a job application that was submitted to Lexington Medical Center on her behalf and for lying about the circumstances surrounding her hiring and dismissal from the hospital.
The email exchange we published was one of dozens made available to reporters thanks to an investigation initiated by former S.C. Board of Economic Advisors (BEA) Chairman John Rainey. It took place on September 11, 2008 – the same day that the DHEC board shot down the hospital heart center.
In the exchange, Haley wrote to Biediger that she “unable to make the DHEC mtg,” although the hospital says she was never asked to attend the meeting on its behalf.
“On (September 11, 2008) DHEC voted on the State Health Plan,” a hospital spokesperson told FITS. “An amendment would have allowed Lexington Medical Center to begin an open heart surgery program; however, the plan was approved without the amendment.”
“Lexington County’s entire legislative delegation, which included Nikki Haley, fully supported a heart program for Lexington Medical Center and showed interest in our effort,” the spokesperson continued. “The hospital kept the lawmakers informed on developments in its efforts to secure a full cardiovascular program. When DHEC took its vote that day, hospital leaders informed the delegation.”
“The hospital never asked or told Nikki Haley to go to a DHEC meeting,” the spokesperson added. “Nikki Haley was a valued member of the Foundation team and her sole responsibility was the promotion of the Foundation.”
FITS has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with DHEC seeking any and all records related to then-Rep. Haley’s communication with the agency during this time period.
We’ll let you know what we find out …
Incidentally, earlier this week Haley replaced all but one member of DHEC’s Board of Directors.