A new story in The State newspaper analyzes how GOP gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley landed a very special $100K job at Lexington Medical Center Foundation and leveraged it with her connections to the payday lending industry, which she regulated as a legislator. This from the woman who insists she wants transparency in government, but it took a major investigation by The State to bring this bucket of sleaze and conflict-of-interest to light. Read it and then go take a shower.
In 2006, Nikki Haley’s finances were a mess.
The Republican gubernatorial candidate reported a family income of $40,269 on her 2006 tax returns, including her husband’s money-losing business. Half that income went to pay interest on the family’s $289,000 mortgage alone.
Then, the foundation arm of Lexington Medical Center, which State Rep. Haley had supported in its fight to open a heart surgery center, came to Haley’s financial rescue.
By 2009, Haley was pulling down more than $100,000 at a fundraising job for the Lexington Medical Center Foundation.
That job was created expressly for Haley, the hospital says, despite a resume that included only accounting positions with a Charlotte firm and with her parents’ clothing company. Campaign spokesman Rob Godfrey said Haley had fundraising experience, but did not provide specifics, and had served on the hospital board before she was elected to the Legislature or took the foundation job.
Haley’s hiring was approved only by Lexington Medical’s chief executive, not the foundation’s board.
And she was paid 63 percent more than fundraisers at similarly sized charities, according to records obtained by The State and an industry group that studies nonprofit salaries.
Those records also show that in paying Haley, Lexington Medical Center Foundation spent seven times more in salaries and overhead than the much-larger foundation at Palmetto Health Richland. Of every $10 the Lexington foundation raised, more than $2 went to pay Haley’s salary.
While Haley was at the foundation, it raised thousands of dollars from a pair of payday lending firms that Haley once oversaw on a House business subcommittee. In that legislative role, one fellow Republican once ripped Haley, saying she single-handedly had blocked efforts to regulate the payday lenders that later became large contributors to the Lexington Medical Center Foundation.
Haley has campaigned for governor, in part, by saying that voters have a right to know how their elected officials make their living.
Too often, she has said, S.C. politicians have used their public political offices to line their private bank accounts. Haley has singled out Vincent Sheheen, the Camden attorney and state senator who is her Democratic opponent, saying he should not have taken part in a lawsuit against payday lenders or represented clients before the state Workers’ Compensation Commission.
But Haley’s stumping for good, ethical government also has drawn criticism as hypocritical.
Haley, for example, disclosed that she was paid $42,500 by a Columbia engineering firm that does business with the state while she was a state representative.
And the Lexington Medical Center Foundation raised money from businesses, including payday lenders, that Haley regulated as a legislator....