At least one of the security guards who was fetching drinks for S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley and her entourage at last weekend’s Heritage golf tournament on Hilton Head Island is a law enforcement agent employed by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.
The agent – whose name we are not releasing – has been assigned to the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) while serving on Haley’s detail. That’s a common practice, as SLED frequently uses agents from DNR and the S.C. Highway Patrol to fill its executive protection obligations.
As we reported earlier this week, several tournament attendees informed FITS that they observed Haley’s bodyguards doubling as cocktail servers on Saturday, with one witness telling us that they saw a member of the governor’s protective detail repeatedly “shuttling drinks back and forth” from a nearby bar to Haley and her entourage.
“His gun was exposed on his hip and his badge was clearly visible on his belt the whole time,” the source said.
No one has accused the agents of drinking on the job, although we’re not sure how playing bartender fits into a professional bodyguard’s job description. Also, an agent who is fetching (or carrying) drinks would likely have a slower response time in reacting to potential threats against the governor’s safety.
Although she’s by no means a heavy drinker, Haley does have an affinity for vodka tonics and isn’t afraid to occasionally tie one on – particularly when she travels. In fact, FITS has spoken with multiple sources who observed Haley’s behavior in the wee hours of the morning in Salt Lake City on Father’s Day in 2008 – just hours before she is alleged to have had a one night stand with lobbyist Larry Marchant.
Apparently the “Dancing Queen” was hammered … and on the prowl for additional alcohol (which isn’t easy to find after 2:00 a.m. in Salt Lake City).
Anyway, shortly after her election, Haley purged SLED’s gubernatorial detail of agents that she felt would not be sufficiently loyal to her. Among those let go was Jack Proffitt, who came out of retirement in 2002 to lead the protective detail of former Gov. Mark Sanford.
A month ago, SLED chief Reggie Lloyd announced that he was stepping down at the conclusion of the 2011 legislative session. Sources tell FITS that Lloyd reached his decision shortly after the Haley purge.
While SLED doesn’t discuss details of the governor’s executive protection – for obvious reasons – sources familiar with Haley’s security arrangements tell FITS that she has expanded her detail. Specifically, she is said to have a ten-person detail providing protection for her and her immediate family compared to the seven-person unit that protected Sanford and his family.
Haley and her husband, Michael, have two children – while Sanford and his ex-wife Jenny have four children.
In addition to more agents, Haley is also using more vehicles. Haley routinely travels to events in a two-car SUV caravan, as opposed to Sanford – who usually traveled in a single Crown Victoria.
Sources also tell FITS that Haley’s staffers – particularly chief of staff Tim Pearson – are using Haley’s security detail as “their own taxpayer-funded taxi service.”