Got my picture in the local paper the other day. Front page; above the fold, full color. I was sitting at a table across from the South Carolina GOVERNOR no less. Nikki Haley was shown full frontal, while I had to be content with full backal – white hair a’gleamin’, I would have been more recognizable if I had pulled my coat up over my face like one of those perp-walk guys. But there I was in the bowels of the local business school, a branch of the state university. It was one of those constituent meetings that elected officials like to pretend they care about. This one was sassily named “Open Door after 4”. The way Haley governs, it should have been called, “Vassal Visits”.
I arrived, as is my custom, early. I was seated at a long conference table and was chatted up by the amiable Dean of the business school for about 15 minutes.
A camo-clad fellow who had driven hundreds of miles for the occasion, eventually joined me at the table. Unprompted, he proceeded to tell me what he’d do about the drug problem. He pointed a finger at me and voiced a convincing BOOM! Problem solved. Things are so simple in camo-land. He had actually signed up to talk about health care he couldn’t afford and how his business had suffered from his problems. I told him my solution without finger-pointing. “Vote Democrat”, I said firmly. He looked at me like I’d told him to set himself on fire.
I finally got the call and entered the smaller room where Haley was housed. Staffers flitted about in the background. Madam governor and I shook hands and took stock of each other. I’m sure she was wondering what this old fart wanted. Haley had just hit the big 4-oh. She’s what a bar hopper would call 5-drinks attractive. She was wearing a black pencil skirt, matching her overdone mascara. Topside, she was encased in a nondescript black T-shirt with a red and gray striped jacket with wide lapels.
There was little small talk as I had to make the best use of my allotted 10 minutes. The newspaper photographer vultured around us as I asked my first question. “Are you familiar with the American Legislative Exchange Council?” Without batting an overdone eyelash, she confessed…YES! I felt like one of those cops in that small interrogation room on “The First 48”. I pressed on. “Have you ever been to an ALEC meeting?” “YES, YES.” Now I was getting somewhere. She crossed her legs, the hem of that narrow skirt taking a suggestive hike further past the knee. I remembered dark rumors of affairs. “That ain’t working with me”, I thought to myself. Anyway, my stockpile of Viagra had run out that very morning.
As the ‘meeting’ progressed, it was clear that Haley had almost nothing for me. She said there were a lot of ALEC members in the legislature, but only ended up naming two. She allowed as how she had gone to a couple of meetings in Chicago and San Francisco but insisted that she had paid for her travel and lodging even when her own ethics filings indicated the she had been gifted and reimbursed by ALEC. She also ducked any meaningful answer about why her ethics report said she paid a $1,000 membership fee as a South Carolina House member prior to being elected governor. I believe the basic legislator membership was in the neighborhood of $100. Higher dues are for higher positions.
She actually stumbled about in saying that ALEC’s national board secretary, Liston Barfield, who also happened to be a SC representative, had paid her fee for her – or maybe it was from “my campaign funds.” She either honestly didn’t know, or was determined not to tell me. Maybe I could buy her befuddlement over numbers if she didn’t have a Clemson University accounting degree and once kept the books for her parent’s multi-million dollar business, though she was notoriously late in paying their taxes.
She did tell me that SC representative; Thad Viers had ‘done’ some model legislation. Could she be throwing Viers under the bus because the pair were the subject of one of those dark rumors as having a one-nighter in San Fran? All I know is that after the interview I knew that she was there in ‘06 and he was there in ‘06. Bad Thad is quite a piece of work. He was fined $500 in 2007 for threatening to sodomize an unsuspecting wretch who was dating his soon to be divorced wife. H’mmm – a year after Frisco if my math is correct. The latest I heard, Viers was being charged with harassment of an ex-girlfriend and had dropped a run for congress.
Haley pleaded ignorance of any knowledge of ALEC model legislation currently sweeping the General Assembly floor. I threw out the example of a Senator ‘Chip’ Campsen who is in the process of pushing a Voter ID bill that comes straight off the ALEC presses. She said she didn’t know a thing about it or an earlier piece of legislation whose sponsor didn’t even bother to change the ALEC title. Considering ALEC calls a goodly number of the shots in her legislature, she was sure acting dumb. And dumb she’s not.
I was interviewed by a reporter post-visit, who asked about my opinion of the governor. Quoting myself here, “I didn’t think she was very forthcoming. I’m not calling her a liar, I just think she knows more than what she was telling me.”
That pretty much sums it up. I left a FOIA request with her, then called her staff the next day and told them to toss it. I’m sending one to Barfield instead. This woman who campaigned on transparency wasn’t even remotely transparent in my few minutes of table-time with her. I don’t believe her and I don’t trust her. She’s another one who hates the feds, hates public education and hates government health care. The only reason I didn’t get into any substantive discussion with her is because I was afraid I’d end up calling her an unfeeling bitch.
And that’s no way to treat a governor. Even one who hates what you stand for.