The Buzz

The Buzz: #Boom or #bust for S.C. pols?

jself@thestate.comSeptember 8, 2013 

Who knew grabbing headlines was as easy as having bad timing, the wrong wardrobe and a smart phone?

Gov. Nikki Haley proved that Wednesday morning, when she locked herself out of the Governor’s Mansion while wearing her bath robe and, then, immediately posted about it on Facebook:

“What not to do ... getting locked out of the Governor’s Mansion in your robe while sending the kids off to school. sigh... #adayinthelife”

The post quickly garnered 5,000-plus likes, more than 700 comments, a Today Show mention and, apparently, put to rest many Facebook commenters’ burning question about whether Haley is just like them. (It also prompted others to say the incident was – or wasn’t – news.)

“I care,” one commenter wrote. “She’s a real person, a real Mom. If you don’t care, then get off her (Facebook) page!!!”

What didn’t go viral?

News that Haley, who had more than $2 million in cash on hand for her re-election campaign as of July, only decided to start repaying the state for her campaign’s mileage while using state-owned cars on Aug. 26, when the first-term Republican officially announced her re-election bid.

The S.C. Ethics Commission said Haley should have been reimbursing the state for campaign-event mileage since she became governor in 2011, Seanna Adcox of The Associated Press reported. (Haley’s attorney is asking for a second opinion.)

Meanwhile, the Dems deserve an “A” for effort for trying to capitalize on the Haley news.

In a news release about Haley’s campaign travels, state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, expected to oppose the Republican next year, declared it “Time for Nikki Haley to Stop Playing By Her Own Set of Rules.”

The day after Gov. Nikki Haley’s folksy post about locking herself out of the mansion, Sheheen even tried showing off his Facebook chops.

The Camden attorney posted a photo of himself standing next to a Ford pickup truck with the boast: “While Nikki Haley uses taxpayer-funded state cars to pick up campaign checks & go to fundraisers, we hit the road in the Old Green Truck.”

How did he fare?

Sheheen’s post generated more than 600 likes and 50 comments – a far cry from Haley’s confessional.

‘If possible with interest’

“Where was I supposed to be? The Himalayas?”

That’s what former state Sen. Robert Ford, who recently resigned amid accusations that he misused campaign money, said when The Buzz asked him about a suspicious email blast that was sent from the Charleston Democrat’s email account.

Written like a classic con, the email told of a distressed Ford stranded in the Philippines, “attacked by some thugs,” robbed and turned away from the police and embassy. Then, came the pitch: “... please I need you to help me with (1,700.00 dollars ) to foot my bills and board a plane back to the state because right now I am stranded and you are my only hope to get out of this mess. When I get back to the states I will refund you every dime that you’ve spent if possible with interest. …”

Ford said he never has been to the Philippines and learned of the email when he started receiving dozens of calls about it.

In addition to spammers hacking his email account, Ford said he lost all his email contacts and plans on contacting authorities about an apparent computer virus that he says wiped his computer clean.

(Asked what is so special about the Himalayas, Ford told The Buzz about Himalayan salt’s special nutritional powers.)

Bright and the ‘YouTube’ Lindsey

Lee Bright, a second-term Republican state senator from Spartanburg, debated a “YouTube Lindsey” Thursday at a Columbia Tea Party gathering.

A projection screen announced “The Debate,” then displayed a carefully curated series of pictures and images of U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca, whose digital image waited for its turn to respond to “questions” posed to both candidates.

The gimmicky event was meant to draw attention to Graham’s absence from South Carolina – a goal undercut by the senator’s several stops in the state last week, pushing for U.S. military intervention in the Syrian civil war.

But, as audience members noted, Bright’s nascent campaign is missing more than a live candidate to debate. To win, Bright is going to need money, they said.

The conversation ended with a brainstorming session on where Bright might find the financial support he needs. (One audience member called on others to open their wallets.)

Bright told The Buzz Friday that he will be ready to say how much money he has raised later this month.

(Graham had more than $6 million on hand as of midyear.)

Third time a charm?

Eddie McCain, a Leesville military veteran, says he again will challenge U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson for South Carolina’s 2nd District congressional seat, this time in the Republican primary.

McCain retired from the U.S. Army in 2009 as a sergeant first class after 20 year. While in the Army, McCain said he deployed once to Haiti as a scout and worked as a station commander for recruiting stations. In retirement, McCain said he works with homeless people in Columbia.

McCain ran as a Libertarian against Wilson in 2010, winning less than 2 percent of the vote. In 2012, he ran as a Republican for S.C. House District 39, but was booted off the ballot – with many others – because of paperwork errors. His petition to run in last November’s general election fell short of the required signatures.

Staff writer Andrew Shain contributed.

Reach Self at (803)771-8658.

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