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Will Folks: SC Lawmakers Falling Into Nikki Haley’s PR Trap




sic|| By WILL FOLKS ||  It’s been a long time, but in a not-too-distant life I used to be the press secretary to the governor of South Carolina.  Not the current governor Nikki Haley (although to be accurate I did used to work … um … “under” her).  Hard work, too … sometimes dirty work. LOLz.

No, I’m talking about Mark Sanford … the guy who turned “hiking the Appalachian Trail” into a metaphor for doing the hibbidy dibbity (and whose chronic oversharing earned him the nickname “Representative TMI”).  Yeah … that guy.

Anyway, one fine spring day many years ago Sanford got upset at state lawmakers who were overriding his vetoes of specific spending items in the state budget.  To protest, he carried a pair of squealing piglets named “pork” and “barrel” to the door of the S.C. House of Representatives to make a point about protecting taxpayer money.

Genius idea?  Of course … it was public relations coup.

But what sealed the deal for Sanford wasn’t the image of him grinning with a pair of oinking piglets under his arms.  No … what won it for the governor was the caustic, angry, doleful face of House Speaker David Wilkins, who appeared on camera grumbling and whining about the governor’s antics.

When Wilkins’ lost his cool by way of a response, that’s when we popped the champagne corks in the governor’s office (and watched Sanford’s approval ratings skyrocket).

Well guess what: History is repeating itself at the S.C. State House this year …

After four years of going along with the failed”Republican-controlled” status quo (embracing it, even) … Haley has decided this year to go in another direction.

Well, sort of …

The governor – who vetoed less than one-tenth of one percent of last year’s state budget – still proposed massive spending increases for the coming fiscal year.  And she’s still trying to rally support for a totally worthless “ethics reform” bill.

To her credit, though, Haley recently opposed a $500 million borrowing plan – a move which has enraged lawmakers.  And which kept this money out of the state budget (at least temporarily).

Now the governor – who previously supported even larger borrowing plans – seems to be going out of her way to stoke legislative anger.  Just this week, in fact, she told a trade group that anyone visiting members of the General Assembly should be prepared to “take a shower” afterward.

Wow …

Why the barbs?  Is it a ploy for national attention?  An attempt to boost her approval ratings?  Is Haley simply reprising Sanford’s strategy of goading a gullible, thin-skinned legislature into pointless bickering?  Over marginal issues, no less?

Whatever the governor’s motivations were for declaring war on her erstwhile allies … one thing is clear: Lawmakers are falling right into her trap.

The level of whining emanating from the S.C. State House is reaching a fever pitch.  Lawmakers bristling at Haley’s social media rebukes keep adopting shriller, more caustic tones.

They are giving Haley exactly what she wants … throwing temper tantrums.  Lashing out indiscriminately.  Permitting her to shape the narrative of herself as a crusading ethics reformer versus them: The antagonist, change-averse legislative curmudgeons.  What’s even more astounding is a lot of these lawmakers were in the General Assembly a decade ago when Sanford was punking them … meaning they should know better than to go down this road.

What should they do instead?


On both spending and “ethics,” Haley does not have a leg to stand on.  So lawmakers should aim carefully, swing forcefully, and knock those legs out from under her.

During her first term as governor Haley pushed a big government agenda on taxesspendingeducation and (most notably) government-subsidized health care.  She “balanced” budgets with billions in borrowing.  In addition to that fundamental disconnect, she’s the biggest hypocrite in the state when it comes to “ethics reform” (and she’s pushing a terrible ethics bill).

Seriously … how hard can it be to rebuke this woman?

Lawmakers need to stop whining and start exposing the governor for exactly what she is: A fraud and a hypocrite.  Don’t be mean.  Don’t be petty.  Don’t be bitter.  Just lay out the facts as they are …

Shouldn’t be that hard …