Gov. Nikki Haley’s 14-year-old daughter having a summer job at the State House gift shop is a tad more unusual than some may have thought.
Haley’s daughter was, in fact, the only 14-year-old to hold a state job as of July 2012. And no 14-year-olds were employed by the state in either July 2011 or July 2010, according to data from the State Budget and Control Board.
However, assuming young Haley once again is employed by the state next summer – when she is 15 – she should find more company her age.
In 2012, the state employed four 15-year-olds. It also employed that same number in 2011 and 2010, according to the budget board, which provided the information in response to a request under the state’s open records law. (The budget board did not specify which state agency the teens worked for or what duties they performed.)
Haley’s daughter worked part-time at the gift shop this summer, helping customers and stocking shelves. The shop is run by the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. That agency’s director is appointed by and reports to Haley.
Some Haley critics said her daughter’s state job was an example of nepotism – or at least the first-term Republican governor’s political tone deafness.
Please, no aspirin jokes
Last week, South Carolina learned allies of Gov. Haley have formed a new political committee to push her agenda and help elect like-minded politicians.
So far, the group has raised $555,000 from four wealthy, out-of-staters, including Foster Friess, a colorful Wyoming-based multimillionaire with a penchant for cowboy hats and a tendency to stick his foot so far into his mouth that it’s nearly irretrievable.
Friess has given the pro-Haley group $250,000 so far. But that’s a pittance compared with the more than $2 million that he gave to former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania during his unsuccessful bid for the GOP presidential nominee.
In a February interview, a reporter asked Friess about Santorum’s stance on contraception.
“Back in my days, they used Bayer Aspirin for contraceptives,” Friess replied. “The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.”
The “joke” put Santorum in a tough spot. “I’m not responsible for every comment that a supporter of mine makes,” he told a reporter. “It was a bad joke. It was a stupid joke. It’s not reflective of me or my record.”
Graham: Running hard or running scared?
How did the 2014 election get here so soon? Doesn’t matter. It has. U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca, clearly is gearing up for re-election, even though it’s two years away.
Last week, the Graham camp sent out a heck of a long, sharp statement after the president of the Club for Growth indicated that group might work to defeat Graham in a Republican primary.
(State Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, also has said Graham should get the boot in 2014 for his moderate ideas.)
Buzz won’t bore you with the full statement, but, suffice it to say, Graham was defensive.
“(In 2014) our campaign will highlight and run aggressively on Senator Graham’s distinguished conservative record that reflects South Carolina values,” reads part of the statement.
Buzz doesn’t know if Graham qualifies as a conservative, particularly in the bright red state of South Carolina, home to the likes of U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-Greenville. But recent polling indicates Graham is on solid ground. His negatives are low, for example.
And if Graham is able to survive a primary challenge, he will clean up in the general election, where moderates and independents are added to the electorate mix.
So unless some political rising star – like, say, U.S. Rep. Tim Scott, R-North Charleston – decides to run for the Senate or the Tea Party, a longtime Graham foe, increases its number tenfold, Buzz’s money is on Graham.
It’s time for South Carolina’s annual self-flagellation! SAT results are due out Monday.
Last year, the state saw its average composite score on the college-entrance exam fall by seven points to 1,436. Meanwhile, the national average dropped six points to 1,500.
In other events this week:
• The Agency Head Salary Commission meets at 1 p.m. Tuesday in Room 406 of the Gressette Building on the State House grounds. No agenda was available Friday.
• The S.C. Education Lottery Oversight Commission meets at 11 a.m. Wednesday in Room 433 of the Blatt Building on the State House grounds. The agenda includes a “presentation by lottery officials” but gives no details.