That didn’t take long …
Less than twenty-four hours after the top attorney for the S.C. State Ethics Commission (SCSEC) concluded Gov. Nikki Haley broke the law by using taxpayer-funded resources for political campaigning, the leader of the agency – which is effectively controlled by the governor’s office – reversed this position and concluded Haley’s actions were legal.
Sound familiar? It should … Haley has received preferential treatment from this agency before when she clearly broke the law. Also, her former colleagues in the S.C. House of Representatives helped her dispose of a much larger ethics scandal last summer.
The flip-flop by SCSEC director Herb Hayden is the most recent development in Haley’s most recent ethics scandal. It’s also the latest example of how South Carolina politicians simply cannot be trusted to police themselves under any circumstances. In Haley’s case, the hypocrisy is especially galling given that she spent the better part of the last year lecturing lawmakers on the need to pass ethics reform legislation.
Let’s rewind the tape quickly to see how we got here …
Earlier this week, FITS exclusively reported that Haley had been involved in a June 2013 car crash in North Carolina. It was later revealed she was in North Carolina to attend a political gathering at which she received nearly $40,000 in campaign cash. In other words there was no state business being conducted – but plenty of political business. Which is why Haley was traveling at the time of the crash with her campaign manager and political fundraiser.
The day after the story broke, we noted that Haley – who has been caught illegally using taxpayer resources for political purposes in the past – was in clear violation of a state law banning taxpayer resources from being expended on political activity.
“The real story isn’t the fact the governor was in a car crash,” we wrote. “The real story is that South Carolina taxpayers subsidized her travel (and the travel of two of her campaign aides) to an overtly political event where she engaged in campaign fundraising.”
SCSEC attorney Cathy Hazelwood agreed with us.
“This is a campaign event in the sense that she received a bunch of campaign money,” Hazelwood told The (Charleston, S.C.) City Paper. “So there needs to the proper reimbursement to the state and proper disclosure.”
Hours later, though, Hazelwood was rebuked by Hayden, who told The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper that “the purpose of the trip was not campaign-related” and that Haley would not have to reimburse taxpayers for the expenses.
Hayden flip-flopped after having a “conversation” with one of Haley’s attorneys – who have bragged in the past about their ability to get the governor out of trouble.
What prompted his change of heart?
Easy: As we exclusively reported earlier this summer, eight of the nine seats on the SCSEC – which pays Hayden’s salary – are either vacant or occupied by members whose terms have expired (meaning Haley can replace them at a whim if she doesn’t approve of their decisions).
“She’s leaving those commissioners with expired terms there precisely so she can have this kind of leverage over them,” one Palmetto political operative told FITS. “As long as they know they can be dismissed and replaced at any moment due to the fact their terms are up, they will side with the governor in any ethics dispute, and that is a real disservice to South Carolinians who want true accountability from their elected officials.”
Exactly … in fact that system is every bit as corrupt as the self-policing that goes on in the S.C. General Assembly, which has led to some very selective enforcement of our state’s ethics laws.
“That’s the problem with the fox guarding the hen house,” a Democratic operative told us.
In South Carolina there is no accountability for elected officials. When powerful politicians say “jump,” those responsible for holding them accountable say “how high?” That’s why our state is so corrupt … and why taxpayers are (still) picking up the tab for that corruption.
Like possums raiding your hen house……..
Man that is some scandelous-ass shit right there ya’ll
Unless the voters get their elected officials to respond to these activities, by whatever means used to get their attention, then the governess will have a free ride for another term. Folks need to get angry – and show it.
“governess” (chuckle, chuckle)
The proper term is Governorette.
Hmmm – wearing a cute outfit and twirling a flaming baton?
” As we exclusively reported earlier this summer, eight of the nine seats on the SCSEC – which pays Hayden’s salary – are either vacant or occupied by members whose terms
have expired (meaning Haley can replace them at a whim if she doesn’t approve of their decisions)..”
Time has passed since this summer and it now appears that all members’ terms have expired.
How do they have a 7th District appointee who was appointed in ’08 when that District wasn’t even created until after the 2010 Census?
It is a shame to have 4 vacancies on such a small board. Does that mean that at this point in her term, Haley can’t find 4 people who will accept an appointment from her for fear of what it will do to their reputation?
Haley is a lying cheating FRAUD!
She defrauded millions of South Carolinians out of their personal data with DOR breach.
She defraudes Will Folks claiming she was leaving her husband.
She defrauded Larry Marchant with only a one night stand, promising more.
She defraudes Lexingrton Medical enter, in order to get more money and never worked.
She defrauded Wilbur Smith out of money and returned no work.
She defrauded Lexington County voters claiming to be a conservative.
She defrauded the people of SC claiming she was not a good old boy.
She defrauded sc voters promising ethics and transparency.
She defrauded the people of Charleston selling their port out for money from Georgia.
She defrauded the Tea Party promising fiscal conservatism.
She defrauded State agencies with her incompetent, unworthy appointments.
She defrauded Michael Haley promising to be a faithful wife and mother.
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Don’t forget defrauding the Sikh temple. Where’s the missing money?
Are you referring to the $50,000 that may have been paid to Palin for her appearance on the State House steps?
Maybe they should quit en masse. Their terms are up. They have been castrated of their authority. The only purpose they serve is to sit pretty for Haley like prized bulls, and if they lose that prized status, it is off to the slaughterhouse for them anyways.
At least if they left altogether and stated similar reasoning, it would be a gut punch to Haley. Sure, she’ll just put campaign donors or other stooges in their place, but that isn’t much different than what she has now.
Oh, wait. What do these people get paid again? Nevermind, won’t happen.
I don’t see that as leverage. Other than getting a license tag, going to a boring monthly meeting, sifting through paperwork of illiterate County Council members and an occasional scandal, the members of the Commission don’t enjoy any real perks. Not like the Ports Authority, or DOT Commission and other plums. This appointment is more like a prune.
You should see some of these “boring monthly meetings,” these board members have their hands in everything the agencies do…EVERYTHING. Boards are set up to advise on policy – not micro manage every operational or human resource decision. Sadly, that is not how these individuals see their appointments.
There’s only one flaw with the expired board vacancy thesis: Haley ran into the same situation with almost EVERY board when she took office.
Mark Sanford sat on his ass for years and let virtually every board seat for every agency IN THE STATE expire and be filled by those with expired terms. We learned this when Haley came in.
Haley made great use of this with the DHEC and DNR boards, packing them with ignorant toadies whose interest in the jobs is directly tied to the license plates that go with them, those willing to blindly follow her instructions, and those more than willing to screw over public health and the environment if it benefits a business.
Why would she have not done the same thing with SCSEC unless she knew she already had that board in her pocket? Are the board members in the expired SCSEC seat more unethical than her appointees to the other board seats?
Yep, just some more South Carolina corruption and cronyism. And the voters will go to the polls and re-elect all the same reprobates because they’ll have an “R” beside their names on the ballot. Wonder why things never change?
The action by the Ethics Commission is crazy regardless of who the members are and how they were appointed. The real point is this was not official state business.
Haley had 2 campaign aides with her and she raised almost $40,000 for her campaign at the event. I doubt these donors just walked up to Gov. Haley randomly and wrote out checks. I feel sure Ms. Haley and her campaign aides solicited these contributions in some manner, which clearly crosses the line to become part of her campaign. Probably they held a private reception.
As a taxpayer, I should not have to pay for Gov. Haley’s fundraising events.She should reimburse the state immediately regardless of what her lawyer got the Ethics Commission director to say.
I like you’re the main character in every story you write.
I applaud Cathy Hazelwood for doing the right thing. Hopefully, she will find a job at a place that does have ethics. Really, Herb Hayden, you couldn’t even make it look like you were doing your job? A sham of an investigation would have been better than what you did. I’m guessing the comment by Hayden that indicated that Ms. Hazelwood didn’t know the whole story went something like this……Hayden to Hazelwood: “Don’t open your mouth before you get it approved and don’t do anything that would embarrass a Governor running for re-election. I need to keep this job that pays $73,000.”
Herb Hayden collects his 60k a year to do very little..
I’ve said it before. The level of arrogance, narcissism, and greed is mind-boggling.