WHISTLEBLOWER QUESTIONS NIKKI HALEY’S DEAL WITH LAWMAKERS
|| By FITSNEWS || It was another scandalous summer for the S.C. Department of Transportation (SCDOT), which still can’t seem to do its job despite receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue.
For the latest on this agency’s chronic corruption, click here …
Prior to SCDOT’s scandalous summer it endured a scandalous spring – one which saw S.C. governor Nikki Haley fire her second straight SCDOT secretary back in May.
What happened? As we exclusively reported at the time, Haley had no choice but to jettison Janet Oakley – the liberal, tax-hike supporting lobbyist whom she appointed to replace the drunk ex-general she hired the first time around.
After all, lawmakers were set to strip her of the ability to appoint this position – which she desperately wanted to retain even though it is essentially a ceremonial post.
Of course months later Haley still hasn’t named a successor, leaving the agency in the hands of her college roommate.
Anyway, from our prior coverage …
Under the provisions of the utterly worthless 2007 SCDOT “reform” bill – a.k.a. “Act 114? – Haley’s authority to appoint the state’s transportation secretary expires on July 1, 2015. At that point, authority to appoint this position would fall to the S.C. Transportation Commission – which is dominated by legislative appointees.
Haley wants to keep that appointment power for herself … which is why sources close to her administration tell FITS she’s cut a deal with legislative leaders to fire Oakley if they agree to let her continue appointing the secretary’s position.
Both the State Senate and the S.C. House of Representatives have both voted to amend the “sunset clause” on Act 114 – meaning the governor would still appoint the secretary of transportation in the beginning of the next fiscal year (which begins on July 1).
“The understanding is that Oakley will be out and a more suitable person will be retained,” one legislative leader confirmed to FITS.
A week after our report was published, Oakley resigned.
Now, a government watchdog – Ned Sloan – has filed a complaint alleging that the legislature violated the state’s constitution in passing this measure via a budget proviso. According to Sloan, the proviso has nothing to do with the raising and spending of state revenue – making it unconstitutional according to Article III, Section 17 of the constitution (which requires all laws to relate to one subject).
“In 2009, the S.C. Supreme Court ruled that in the future, a law successfully challenged under the one subject rule would see the entire law ruled unconstitutional,” reporter Paul Gable of Grand Strand Daily noted. “Therefore, if this proviso is determined by the S.C. Supreme Court to be unconstitutional, the entire state budget for the current fiscal year could be declared unconstitutional.”
A separate petition filed by Sloan alleges the SCDOT sunset provision itself is unconstitutional because it violates the separation of powers clause. Both petitions will be heard by the S.C. Supreme Court.
Currently, state lawmakers appoint seven of the eight SCDOT commissioners. This system has been an abject failure – wasting billions of dollars on unnecessary projects while vital infrastructure needs go unaddressed.
In fact South Carolina’s roads are worse than they’ve ever been despite SCDOT’s annual budget climbing from $1.13 billion to $1.84 billion over the last four years alone.
Ignoring this corruption and fiscal recklessness, a major push was undertaken last year by status quo lawmakers to raise South Carolina’s gasoline tax – even though Palmetto State residents already pay more of their income in fuel than residents of any other state (save Mississippi and West Virginia).
Thankfully, this effort – which would have pumped more money into the same failed system – was unsuccessful (thanks to S.C. Senator Tom Davis).
We suspect the fiscal liberals will be back again next year …