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RE: “Savannah River Sellout” Scandal

Dear Editor,

I am finding it very hard to understand the furor over the governor influencing the decision reached by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) board relating to the decision allowing Georgia to deepen the channel leading to the port of Savannah. I am not arguing for or against the decision though I have some doubts about the agreements with Georgia and whether South Carolina will ever get the benefits promised.  I believe fair-minded people could differ on the wisdom of this deal but I will defer to the board as they have much better information about the subject.  I have no reason to believe they would intentionally undermine South Carolina’s interests.

What I don’t understand is why people are trying to create a scandal out of this episode based on the idea that Governor Nikki Haley inappropriately influenced the SCDHEC decision. I don’t know if she did or did not influence the board at all on this issue but I am completely confident that any influence she may have exerted was not inappropriate. I trust her and her staff when they say that they did not but in any case the issue to me seems irrelevant.

As the state’s chief executive, the governor is responsible for the boards to the extent that she appoints the members and has general oversight of state operations. Certainly her appointments influence the decisions of the board. Additionally she should voice her opinion on the issues before any board on a regular basis as I would expect the state legislature to voice their opinions to any board as well. In fact I think she is obligated to voice her opinion on the issues and to try to encourage the various boards to do what is right in her opinion. That is her job and what she was elected to do. I think the legislature has the same obligation. Ultimately though the board is charged with taking a reasonable decision, in the best interests of the state, after considering all the facts and other relevant factors including people’s opinions.

It is disappointing to me that the Republican-controlled State Senate was manipulated into holding a political charade for the benefit of the Democrat minority whose only interest was to embarrass the Republican Governor and impugn her character and that of her staff. I agree with Governor Haley that this exercise sets a bad precedent that the legislature can haul in the Governor and her staff ever time they have a political disagreement. I would expect these antics from a Democrat-controlled House or Senate but when Republicans turn on their own as they try to show “who’s the boss” it hurts us as a party and more importantly the state of South Carolina.


Rich Bolen
Lexington, S.C.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Rich Bolen is chairman of the Lexington County Republican Party and a candidate for the South Carolina State Senate.