HOUSE ETHICS PANEL WANTS TO KNOW WHO PAID HALEY
As we reported exclusively earlier this week, members of the S.C. House Ethics Committee have voted to reopen an investigation into whether Gov. Nikki Haley illegally lobbied on behalf of at least one former employer while serving as a member of the S.C. General Assembly.
Unfortunately members of the committee – some of whom are said to be facing political pressure from the governor – have yet to launch a full-scale probe of the allegations. Instead, they have given Haley one week to show that she was employed by Lexington Medical Center’s nonprofit foundation as opposed to the hospital itself.
Can Haley show that? It’s doubtful …
As we reported a year ago, Haley was never paid by the non-profit foundation – she was paid by the hospital, which is a registered lobbyist principal in the state of South Carolina (and which was pushing for the approval of its new heart center at the time).
“All of our employees – even those who work for the foundation – are paid by the hospital,” a hospital spokesperson told FITS at the time.
The spokesperson specifically added that Haley was paid by the hospital – not the non-profit foundation – for the duration of her tumultuous 20-month tenure there. Not only that, Haley herself reported being paid by “Lexington Medical Center” – not “Lexington Medical Foundation” – on her 2011 statement of economic interests.
Take a look …
(Click to enlarge)
Most damning, of course, is an email uncovered last year in which Haley specifically discusses her efforts to lobby the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) behalf of the hospital’s new heart center.
“We have some work to do not only to switch votes but to hold the ones we have,” Haley wrote in an email to Lexington Medical Center CEO Mike Biediger. “We are as close as we are going to get and can’t afford to leave one stone unturned. We were all given assignments and are working on them. Fingers crossed!”
Lexington Medical Center somehow failed to include this email in responding to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request submitted by John Rainey, the GOP fundraiser whose complaint against Haley started this whole investigation.
Haley – who represented Lexington County in the S.C. House of Representatives from 2005-2011 – also stands accused of illegally lobbying on behalf of Wilbur Smith Associates (an engineering firm with extensive business before the state) and failing to report $42,500 in income received from the company between 2007-09.
The governor has yet to substantively respond to any of those allegations – choosing instead to threaten her former colleagues with the exposure of their own dirty laundry.
In light of these threats, ethics committee members voted 6-0 earlier this month that probable cause existed to investigate Haley – but then decided to throw out the case on a technicality. The decision to reopen the Haley ethics case comes on the heels of an appeal of the committee’s dismissal filed a week ago by Rainey.