Dr. Chris Lamb, a professor of Communications at the College of Charleston, composed the following entry that recently appeared in The State as a guest column:
The State reported Sunday on a Winthrop University poll that revealed only 34 percent of registered voters approve of the job Nikki Haley is doing as governor.
Upon reviewing Haley’s first year in office, one is left wondering not why her approval rating is so low but rather why it is so high.
Jan. 13: The Associated Press reports that Haley will pay her chief of staff, Tim Pearson, $125,000 per year — $27,500 more than Gov. Mark Sanford paid his chief of staff the preceding year.
March 3: Haley appoints a campaign contributor, attorney Tommy Cofield, to the University of South Carolina’s Board of Trustees, replacing Darla Moore, the largest benefactor in the school’s history.
March 15: The State, drawing on documents received through a Freedom of Information Act request, reports that Haley’s 2008 application for a job as a fundraiser for the Lexington Medical Center listed her previous salary at $125,000 a year — $100,000 more than what she really earned at her parents’ clothing store.
April 21: The State newspaper, citing documents from another FOIA request, reveals that Haley’s office tried to convince news organizations to report that Darla Moore was replaced because she ignored multiple requests to meet with the governor. The documents provide no evidence that Haley tried to contact Moore prior to March 3.
June 18: Haley and a delegation of 26 others go to Paris to recruit business to the state. North Carolina sends seven people to the air show. Georgia sends two.
Sept. 5: Post and Courier reporter Renee Dudley writes that the governor’s June trip to Paris cost the state an estimated $127,000. The costs include airfare, five-star hotels, a soiree for foreign business leaders and a chalet at the International Paris Air Show.
Sept. 8: Haley calls Dudley a “little girl” during a nationally syndicated radio interview.
Sept. 8: Haley tells the Lexington Rotary Club that half of applicants for jobs at the Energy Department’s Savannah River Site failed drug tests and half of the remaining applicants couldn’t pass reading and writing tests.
Sept. 12: The Post and Courier reports that Haley and her staff stayed overnight at luxury beach cottages at Kiawah Island, at a cost of $3,641. By comparison, Gov. Mark Sanford held his staff retreats at his family farm in Beaufort, where they cooked hamburgers on a fire pit and slept in sleeping bags.
Sept. 20: Haley acknowledges she can’t support the claim she made at the Lexington Rotary Club, adding, “I never felt like I had to back up what people tell me.”
Nov. 8: The Post and Courier reports that Haley is in California again to speak to conservative groups, expand her national image and raise money for her 2014 re-election campaign. The newspaper reports that Haley has flown more than 50 times and has spent a month and a half outside South Carolina since becoming governor. It says the governor has accepted 20 flights from people with potential business with the state, including three who were appointed to important government positions.
Nov. 10: The board that oversees the Department of Health and Environmental Control overrules an initial staff decision and approves a water-quality permit for the Georgia Ports Authority to dredge the Savannah port. The decision is made without public hearings or feedback from political, business or environmental leaders. Critics charge that Haley and the board, comprised of the governor’s appointees, betrayed the state’s interests by giving Savannah a competitive advantage over Charleston.
Nov. 18: The Post and Courier reports that the governor’s trip to Europe cost the state $158,000, not the $127,000 earlier reported.
Nov. 20: The State discovers from an FOIA request that Haley’s staff has deleted emails between staffers, possibly in violation of state public records laws.
Dec. 8: Lawmakers, business groups, and environmentalists publically challenge DHEC’s decision. Says GOP Rep. Chip Limehouse: “I don’t think this issue is going away any time soon.”
Lamb’s taught writing classes at CoC, where he also advises the student newspaper, since 1997. (I included this entry here chiefly in memory of my own college rag’s advisor, the late [and infamous] Don Lee Keith. Plus, Chris might buy me a beer one day.)
This entry appears with his direct permission.
His latest book, The Sound and Fury of Sarah Palin (Frontline Press), comes out in January.
Visit Rob Groce’s blog