On April 3, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s memoir Can’t Is Not An Optionhit the bookstores. Book critics and political pundits have been comparing Haley to former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Republicans gush over Haley – she’s attractive (though not as classically featured or petite as Palin), young, female, the daughter of immigrants, ethnic without being weirdly different, a Southerner…everything a doting conservative could want in a Republican up-and-comer.
She is also allegedly ethics-impaired, just like Sarah Palin. Sur-pri-i-i-se!
First it was the trips. Haley has been lavishly spending state money “promoting” South Carolina in foreign places like France and being criticized for it. Now, there are the questions about her election campaign.
The South Carolina Ethics Commission is investigating the little “bookkeeping” errors in Haley’s campaign disclosures, things like where the donors live and what their occupations are. In a March 29 letter, the commission stated that “probably cause exists to support the alleged violation.” A formal hearing has been set for July 18.
Of course, Haley’s people say it is all a misunderstanding. They have supplied the addresses of four of the six on the list, and say that the other two only contributed “a total of $326.78″ as though the amount justifies the omission. The missing information covers $1.3 million in donations. Haley could be fined up to $14,000 for these violations.
Palin was very good as excusing her ethics violations. She also quit her governorship to “save the state the cost” of pursuing the “witch hunt” against her. Very noble of her.
Haley’s people have said that if they can’t provide the necessary information, they will treat the donations as anonymous and donate the money to the Children’s Trust. That is permitted under the ethics rules. So, Haley’s campaign had that much money left over? That would be the natural next question, wouldn’t it? It’s somehow easier to come up the money than find the donors’ occupations or addresses?
Dodging the violation with a technicality is not going to help Haley’s growing image problem in South Carolina or within the party. Some Republican pundits are already crossing both Marco Rubio and Nikki Haley off the list of potential vice-presidential hopefuls because of small questions about their character or their potential to assist the party’s image. Rubio is not, in the eyes of the Hispanic community, a real Hispanic, and he fudged the story of his parent’s immigration. Haley is racking up too many questions about her ethics. Neither would be a real “game changer” for Mitt Romney, and the more people compare Haley to Palin, the less appetizing she becomes.