South Carolina’s Conservatives for Truth in Politics released a new video this week questioning Republican governor Nikki Haley on recent port development.
In “Selling Out SC,” the group referring to itself as “TIP” says Haley put over 280,000 jobs at risk in a “back-room deal” with the governor of another state.
Earlier this year, the state’s Dept. of Health & Environmental Control blocked the Army Corps of Engineers’ request for a water quality permit, a first step towards dredging of the Port of Savannah in Georgia.
The dredging of a nearby port in another state could harm South Carolina waters, DHEC concluded, and would negatively affect trade in the Port of Charleston, too, which has declined in nationwide ranking in recent years.
The governor arranged a re-hearing on the topic, however, and earlier this month DHEC’s board – who were all appointed by Haley – unanimously reversed its decision. The state now supports improvements to the competing port.
“Shouldn’t South Carolina’s governor be fighting to keep jobs in our state?” the recent TIP video questions in closing.
Last month at a function in Atlanta, after DHEC’s first rejection of the plan and before its subsequent reversal, Haley received $15,000 in campaign donations from Port of Savannah supporters, according to the Post & Courier.
TIP was co-founded last year by Republican activist Cyndi Mosteller and Dr. Dave Woodard, a political science professor at Clemson Univ. Liana Orr, a Columbia realtor, is executive director of the group.
When first formed, TIP’s declared goal was to “ask serious questions of a serious candidate for governor, Ms. Nikki Haley,” specifying questionable claims and controversies regarding the then-state representative, along with her inexperience.
The group released another video in late October right before the general election, calling Haley a “liar” on the issues of her personal taxes and business experience, and alleged she falsely completed her financial disclosure forms.
Another notable Republican in the state recently made legal complaint against the governor over those same disclosure form claims from her 2010 campaign, as well as other similar ethics violations.
John Rainey, notable party fundraiser and former chair of the state Board of Economic Advisors, filed suit on Nov. 17 alleging Haley “exploited her public office for personal gain(.)
Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey referred to these claims as a “transparent political stunt,” calling Rainey “a disgruntled Republican has-been.”
Rainey was a financial consultant to the South Carolina campaigns of George W. Bush and John McCain, and is on the state finance team of Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman. He’s also aided the campaigns of both U.S. senators from the state.
The proposed dredging will deepen the Port of Savannah to 48 feet, allowing it to better accommodate large shipping vessels. The Port of Charleston, which also hopes for new dredging, has a current depth of 45 feet.
Each extra foot in depth amounts to accommodation of an additional 100 cargo containers aboard a ship, says Jim Newsome of the South Carolina State Ports Authority.
Completion of enlarging the Panama Canal in 2014 is expected to boost shipping along the Atlantic coast.
The Port of Charleston was expected to greatly improve its cargo trade after completion of the Panama Canal project, but could now be subject to significant competition from Savannah following the proposed dredging.
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