By Paul Gable
You have to give Nikki Haley credit for consistency. Whenever the governor comes up against a law she doesn’t like, she ignores it.
The latest comes with having her campaign reimburse the state for the costs of state law enforcement officers providing security while she is on the campaign trail.
Haley’s latest end run around state law results from a trip to North Carolina she made in June where Haley attended an event held by a foundation supporting N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory. During the course of her attendance, Haley picked up a total of $34,500 in campaign donations.
Initially, S.C. Ethics Commission attorney Cathy Hazelwood sent a letter to the Haley campaign saying it would have to reimburse the state for the June trip. However, Ethics Commission executive director Herb Hayden reversed Hazelwood’s decision.
He claimed because the event was a fundraiser for a nonprofit corporation and not for a candidate, Haley’s campaign did not have to reimburse the state. Didn’t seem to matter to Hayden that Haley picked up campaign donations along the way and wasn’t conducting state business.
In order to avoid problems of this type in the future, Haley, Hayden and SLED chief Mark Keel entered into a memorandum of understanding that states, among other things, that the governor is required to have a security detail at all times in all places.
Actually, state law doesn’t say that. It says the governor shall have a security detail in a manner agreed to… You only have to look as far as Mark Sanford to know the governor can pick and choose when he or she wants a security detail, if at all.
In addition, the MOA states that the receipt of campaign donations or remarks made about a campaign do not automatically classify an event as a campaign event.
Maybe not, but they sure don’t classify it as state business.
Title 8 Chapter 13 of state law governs public officials, ethics and campaigns. Specifically 8-13-765 says government personnel may work on campaigns ON THEIR OWN TIME, not on state time.
When state law enforcement officers are providing protection for the governor, they are not on their own time.
When Haley is picking up campaign donation checks she is not working on state business.
But now Haley has a memorandum of understanding with two executive personnel over whom she has ultimate authority. Was there any question these two wouldn’t sign the MOA and still keep their jobs?
Last time I checked, the legislature has to amend state law, not the governor with other officials within her Executive Department.
The MOA is not a legal document. It cannot and does not circumvent state law, but let’s see if anyone has the courage to say so.