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It wasn’t supposed to end up like this …

When S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley cut her infamous backroom deal with S.C. Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman during the recently-concluded legislative session, one of its goals was to ensure that there were enough plum bureaucratic posts available for everyone.

By preserving the S.C. Budget and Control Board – and creating a new Department of Administration – Haley was hoping to declare a “partial victory” on her signature issue of government restructuring. Of course she was also hoping to keep state government big and unruly enough to provide jobs for all of her

Haley’s longtime friend (and top secret-keeper) Eleanor Kitzman would have remained at her $174,000 a year post, while the governor’s famed $1-a-year man Christian Soura would have taken over the state’s “other” administrative agency (presumably at a much higher salary).

Unfortunately for Haley, Tea Party leaders caught wind of the secret deal – and blew it up. As a result, conservative Republican lawmakers joined with Democrats to amend Haley’s “restructuring in name only” legislation – calling for the elimination of the S.C. Budget and Control Board (which, ironically, is what Haley campaigned on).

Now, Haley is faced with the very real possibility of getting what she said she wanted … even though what she really wanted was “reform in name only” that would have appeased her RINO allies in the S.C. General Assembly while expanding her bureaucratic patronage.

Reading the handwriting on the wall, Kitzman resigned this month to take a position in Texas. Meanwhile, Soura is cooling his heels at Haley’s “South Carolina Center for Transforming Government,” a political organization formed by Haley attorney Butch Bowers to advance the governor’s legislative agenda (such as it is).

Soura, a one-time employee of former Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania, will likely be placed in charge of the new Department of Administration – assuming lawmakers create it when they return in January.

But who will replace Kitzman?

Given the fact that the votes are there in the S.C. Senate to eliminate the agency next year, there aren’t a lot of people rushing to apply for the job. Sources tell FITS that Haley has convinced the board’s interim director Marcia Adams to take the position – but that Adams (a member of former Gov. Mark Sanford’s cabinet) will insist on receiving a new appointment from the governor in the event the agency is dissolved.

Musical chairs, right?

Obviously, the good news is that lawmakers appear to be on the verge of doing away with this ridiculous agency – which for years has permitted the legislative branch of government to interfere in the executive administration of state government.

The bad news?

Lawmakers are expected to siphon some of the board’s power for themselves (rather than handing it to the executive branch)  – while Haley appears intent on creating enough taxpayer-funded seats for her favored bureaucrats to land on when the music stops. Once again, neither “Republican-controlled” branch of government is watching out for the taxpayers’ bottom line.

As we’ve said from the beginning of this debate, the solution to administrative restructuring of state government is remarkably simple. The S.C. Budget and Control Board should be immediately dissolved, and all of its functions should be placed within the governor’s cabinet.

That way, taxpayers will at least know who to hold accountable when their government fails them …