We’ve all heard about Virginia’s Republican Governor, Bob McDonnell, who is under fire—and rightly so—for receiving cash and gifts from a tobacco executive, right? And we’ve all heard McDonnell apologize for the embarrassment that he and his family brought to the state, right?
Well, he ain’t the only Governor, and Republican, who has allowed wealthy benefactors to lavish him with generous gifts. South Carolina’s own, Transparent Nikki Haley, has, according to her own disclosure forms, accepted tens of thousands of dollars worth of tickets and suites at sporting events over the past two years; and most of those gifts come from people who have business with the state.
Unethical say what?
In Haley’s mandatory 2012 and 2013 Statements of Economic Interests, the governor reported receiving hundreds of gifts, large and small, with the most significant items—from people identified only as “friend/supporter”—being access to their Clemson Football Suites. These little gifts totaled $58,000 over two years.
Now, to be fair, while many states prohibit interested parties from giving gifts to elected officials or cap those gifts at a nominal maximum, South Carolina law does not; still the state does say that no one can “directly or indirectly, give, offer, or promise anything of value to a public official, public member, or public employee” with the intent to influence their official responsibilities.
And yet six of Nikki Haley’s benefactors are members of Clemson’s board of trustees: David Dukes, John “Nicky” McCarter Jr., E. Smyth McKissick III, William Smith Jr., Joseph Swann, and the board’s chairman, former Speaker of the South Carolina House, David Wilkins.
And since Haley took office, and began getting those tickets and suites at Clemson games, the university has benefited greatly. Clemson relies on state funding for about 10% each year, and after several years of declining state revenue, Clemson just received a several-million-dollar increase once Nikki Haley took office.
And now Clemson is set to receive yet another hefty boost this year. And while the university has not gotten everything it’s wanted from the Haley gubernatorial offices, she has provided Clemson with another key perk: she has repeatedly loaned her state plane to Clemson’s president and its football recruiters and only stopped doing so when state legislators objected.
And howsabout John “Nicky” McCarter Jr., one of Haley’s benefactors? His company, Defender Services, Inc., a Columbia, SC-based staffing company, has received some $300,000 worth of state contracts since The Transparent Nikki Haley took office. And, before that, as a state representative, Haley voted for McCarter’s 2010 reappointment to the Clemson board of trustees.
One hand washes the other, and gives free plane trips and free suites at college football games.
Two of Haley’s other ‘benefactors,’ Dukes and Wilkins, are partners in the Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough lobbying firm. Nelson Mullins, as a treat for supporting Haley, received a$60,000-a-year contract extension with the state last March to provide federal lobbying services for Coastal Carolina University.
Haley’s other gifts included a $1,700 basketball ticket from health care magnate Vivek Garipalli, a $2,500 painting from artist Jeffrey Callaham, and $100 in earrings from a benefactor listed as “unknown.”
Jewelry from ‘unknown.’
The saddest part of the Haley story is that she has made ethical government and reform a major push for her administration while she takes gifts and then magically allows the gift-givers to make money off the state of South Carolina. In fact, Haley has pushed a bill to “determine whether South Carolinians get to know who is paying their legislators, and whether legislators get to continue to police themselves” and in a recent speech uttered these words:
“Never has there been a time where the people of South Carolina wanna see [SIC] ethics reform. Never has there been a time where the people of South Carolina deserve to see ethics reform. Never has there been a time where elected officials are gonna be held accountable and we’re gonna see that happen… We need to show the people of the world that we don’t have issues in South Carolina, that we are not afraid of ethics reform, and that we’re gonna pass a strong ethics reform bill this year.”
Still, there is no evidence that they violated South Carolina’s lax ethics law, it’s hard to believe that the suites did not provide these people with both access to the governor and goodwill from her that the average South Carolinian would not enjoy.
But that’s out Nikki, and that’s your Republican party.
via Think Progress