SC politics: Group wants attorney general to advise on Haley’s repayments

October 1, 2013 

Group wants attorney general to advise on Haley reimbursements

A government watchdog group wants South Carolina’s attorney general to weigh in on whether Gov. Nikki Haley should reimburse taxpayers for a trip to North Carolina in June.

In a letter provided to The Associated Press, John Crangle of Common Cause asked the director of the State Ethics Commission to either change his mind or seek an attorney general’s opinion.

“We’re giving him a chance to correct his own mistake,” Crangle said after hand-delivering the letter to the agency Monday.

Ethics Commission director Herb Hayden has said Haley doesn’t need to pay for her security detail’s expenses to a June 27 fundraiser for an organization supporting North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory’s agenda. Hayden insists Haley and other politicians who are assigned public vehicles must reimburse only for events specifically held to raise money for them.

Hayden said his position is firm, but he will ask the commission’s board members if they want to seek the advice of Attorney General Alan Wilson – like Haley, a Lexington Republican – or perhaps issue their own opinion. Their next meeting is Nov. 20.

State law requires a security detail for the governor. But it also bars taxpayer funds or public equipment from being used for campaign events.

Crangle contends the North Carolina event clearly benefited Haley’s campaign, noting the donations she received afterward. The “Haley trip was exactly the type of use of state assets the statute was designed to regulate,” wrote Crangle, noting he helped draft the 1991 ethics act.

The reimbursement issue arose after the State Law Enforcement Division confirmed in late August that Haley was in Greensboro, N.C., on June 27, when an agent driving her crashed into a concrete pole in the roadway. Haley and two other passengers, both campaign staff, were not injured.

Haley was slated to attend the first of a two-day fundraiser for the Renew North Carolina Foundation. According to her second-quarter filings, Haley’s campaign collected more than $40,000 from 21 North Carolina residents from June 27 through June 30.

In July, Haley’s campaign reimbursed three state agencies a total of $7,610 for her security agents’ extra costs during out-of-state fundraisers in the fiscal year that ended June 30. Her spokesman, Rob Godfrey, said there was no reimbursement for the Greensboro, N.C., trip because that wasn’t a fundraiser for her.

A spokesman for Wilson said he had no comment on Crangle’s request.

The Associated Press

State reaches settlement over HIV inmate policy

The federal government has settled a dispute with South Carolina’s prisons over a policy segregating HIV-positive inmates.

The U.S. Justice Department said Tuesday it has reached an agreement with the Department of Corrections over alleged violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The federal government had been preparing a complaint accusing the agency of denying HIV-positive inmates the opportunity to participate in certain programs and activities.

The settlement follows the Corrections Department’s July announcement it would stop segregating HIV-positive inmates. It gave no date for that process to begin. An agency spokesman said Tuesday the department is in the process of training and educating staff.

South Carolina had been one of two states that separated HIV-positive inmates. Last year, a judge struck down a similar policy in Alabama.

The Associated Press

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