The Buzz: Haley’s backers on the move

ashain@ thestate.comAugust 17, 2013 

Money in hand

stock photo


— Gov. Nikki Haley’s friends have been busy this year.

A political organization run by Haley supporters raised $570,000 during the first half of this year – and spent all but $122,000 to aid the Republican governor’s work, according to an IRS filing.

The Movement Fund received contributions this year from: New Jersey health care mogul Vivek Garipalli, $300,000; Florida pharmaceutical entrepreneur Raj Mantena, $200,000; Texas investor Harold Simmons, $50,000; and Ohio charter school firm Altair Learning Management, $20,000.

Mantena contributed $100,000 to the fund last year.

Nearly $300,000 that the fund spent this year went to a television ad campaign that questioned Democratic gubernatorial candidate Vincent Sheheen’s support of nationwide health care reform, Movement Fund advisor Tim Pearson said.

Pearson’s political consulting firm received $59,500 from The Movement Fund.

Salt Box Strategies also has received $24,000 from the Haley campaign this year – bringing the one-man firm’s total to $83,500 in the first half of the year. Pearson earned $128,750 as the chief of staff in Haley’s office before leaving last fall to become her campaign advisor.

Red Sea, the D.C.-area consulting firm run by Haley strategist Jon Lerner, received $371,500 – though much of it was for the ad campaign.

The Movement Fund had about $248,000 on hand as of June 30.

Haley’s campaign has $2.4 million, creating a one-two punch that Sheheen will try to dodge in 2014.

Here’s to your health

State Republicans staged a news conference this week to complain about the impact of Obamacare on small business, but they might not have picked the best business as an example.

Fred Price, owner of Ace Glass, says he has about 45 employees. The Obamacare requirements for small businesses, which have been delayed until 2015, include penalties for companies with more than 50 employees who don’t provide affordable health insurance to their employees.

Price said he offers subsidies that pay a portion of his employees’ premiums. Under Obamacare, small businesses that help their employees pay for insurance can get tax credits.

So Obamacare might be a financial boost for Price.

But the specific costs and potential tax credits are still in flux, which is Price’s main complaint.

“I’ve got a good (insurance) agent, and he cannot tell me what my costs are going to be,” Price said.

State Sen. Katrina Shealy, R-Lexington, made a similar point at the news conference.

“Employers have no idea how to budget for the future,” she said. “All they get are increase premium warnings, but still have no actual premiums for next year. Businesses will not grow or hire because of this delay.”

The news conference originally was scheduled at a Lizard’s Thicket, and the Columbia-based restaurant chain with 700 employees might have been a better example of a company facing Obamacare headaches. Chief executive Bobby Williams said last year he would cut hours for most new hires below the 30-hour threshold. Large companies will be required to provide them insurance coverage for employees working more than 30 hours a week.

‘Schooled’ in the schoolyard

Supporters of Republican Mick Zais, state Superintendent of Education, showed up Thursday at Hand Middle School in Columbia as state House Democrat “Coach” Mike Anthony announced that he’s running for the state’s top education post.

But while Anthony’s campaign team set up Coach’s podium on the sidewalk, where it’s legal to campaign, Zais’ supporters, who chose to remain nameless to The Buzz, proceeded onto school grounds with giant “Zais” signs, in line-of-sight of the television cameras.

That is, until Anthony’s campaign manager Tyler Jones kindly told them it’s illegal to campaign on school grounds.

Zais’ supporters promptly moved to the street, behind the cameras, where they kindly waited until after Anthony spoke to chant their pro-Zais message, then quietly left.

Zais spokesman and 2010 campaign manager, Jay Ragley, said the supporters were not part of Zais’ campaign which, at this point, does not yet exist.

Buzz bites

Emails between the State Ethics Commission and Gov. Nikki Haley’s attorney, released last week, mentioned the U.S. Attorney’s office planned to indict someone by the end of 2012. The name was blacked out ... Someone with the email label “ SC GOP” sent an email to S.C. media saying Sen. Lindsey Graham is “closely aligned” with the Muslim Brotherhood. The real S.C. GOP quickly distanced itself from the email, saying they did not send it and did not endorse its contents ... Haley is listed as a speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference’s St. Louis event on Sept. 28, but she’s not expected to attend. She introduced GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in his first major speech since losing the 2012 race at a D.C.-area CPAC conference in March. The Palmetto Health Foundation honored former state Sen. Kay Patterson Saturday night with a Pink Tie. Patterson, who represented Richland County, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003 and has been a survivor for 10 years. Partnership for a New American Economy

Reporters Jamie Self and Joey Holleman contributed.

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