… AND ABOUT “STREAMLINING GOVERNMENT”
S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley never misses an opportunity to rail on U.S. President Barack Obama – even though her Department of Transportation relied on a $52 million bailout from his administration to stay afloat last summer. Oh … and even though both politicians are currently supporting a government-funded port in Georgia at the expense of a privately funded port in South Carolina.
Anyway, none of that stops Haley from bashing Obama … who obviously deserves to be bashed.
“The hardest part of my job continues to be this federal government, this administration, this president,” Haley said during a high-profile address to the Republican National Convention last month. “These past few years – you can work hard, try to be as successful as possible, follow the rules, and President Barack Obama will do everything he can to stand in your way.”
Yet while Haley publicly blasts Obama, one of his staunchest supporters is currently serving as a member of her cabinet. We’re talking about Kela Thomas (above, center), who was appointed by Haley in 2011 to lead the S.C. Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services (SCDPPPS).
Sources describe Thomas as an “ardent Obama supporter” who was active in his 2008 campaign. In fact, there’s a picture of Thomas and her husband with Obama taken at a South Carolina fundraiser – although it’s not immediately clear whether the couple has contributed to Obama’s presidential campaigns.
Obviously the political preferences of government employees ought to be irrelevant when it comes to their ability to discharge official duties impartially. In other words, Haley ought to be able to deflect any criticism of Thomas’ selection simply by pointing to the fact that her appointee is a functionary tasked with implementing the directives of the governor’s office.
But is that the case here? No …
According to multiple legislative sources, Thomas has been instrumental in blocking the merger of SCDPPPS with the S.C. Department of Corrections (SCDOC) – another one of Haley’s cabinet agencies. This merger – one of the unrealized reforms the governor keeps taking credit for – was one of Haley’s top government restructuring priorities a year ago. In fact the consolidation of SCDOC and SCDPPPS was one of the four reforms that Haley insisted state lawmakers address when she attempted to haul them back to Columbia, S.C. for an emergency legislative session last spring.
Ultimately the consolidation bill went nowhere in the State Senate thanks to the efforts of Sen. Gerald Malloy – who served on a State Senate committee tasked with examining the impact of the agency merger.
According to our sources, not only did Thomas “join forces” with Malloy to sink the proposed consolidation, she also “directed her employees to contact other legislators to actively oppose Haley’s merger plans.”
While no one (until now) has reported on Thomas’ active opposition to Haley’s restructuring plan, it’s no secret that she has refused to offer her support for the proposal.
“I don’t believe Ms.Thomas is all the way there on consolidation,” S.C. Sen. Mike Fair (RINO-Greenville) said last year after Thomas refused to endorse the plan during testimony before his penology committee.
Obviously consolidating SCDOC and SCDPPPS – a notion we support – isn’t exactly a quantum leap forward when it comes to the push for greater efficiency in government. More importantly, it will provide absolutely nothing in the way of savings – at least not until Haley and state lawmakers approve the creation of a “taxpayer rebate fund.”
Still, whatever you think of Haley and her proposals it is absolutely baffling that someone appointed by the governor – who is paid $92,917 a year (not counting benefits) – would be actively opposing Haley’s wishes.
That’s where we are though …
Thomas’ efforts against the governor’s structural reforms are obviously nothing new to FITS readers. In fact one of our commenters informed us back in April that she was “doing everything in her power behind the scenes to sabotage the proposed merger,” a tip we published here.
UPDATE: According to federal campaign contribution data, Thomas’ husband Darrin has contributed money to Barack Obama, Jim Clyburn, Inez Tenenbaum and Lindsey Graham over the last eight years.