State Sen. Katrina Shealy says her heart – not any political allegiance to Republican Gov. Nikki Haley – is guiding her role as a member of a Senate panel tasked with investigating claims the state’s child welfare agency has missed abuse cases that led to child deaths.
After a March hearing into alleged ills at the state Department of Social Services, Shealy, a Lexington Republican whose stunning 2012 ouster of longtime GOP incumbent Jake Knotts had Haley’s fervent backing, told The Buzz that she frequently wakes up at 3 a.m., dreaming about the complaints she has received.
In one dream, Shealy said she was holding a “little boy, an African-American boy ... he had his head all wrapped up in bandages – and it was so vivid – and I was carrying him around and I was trying to save him.”
“I know it was some symbolism about what I’m trying to do,” said Shealy, who added she has fielded complaints about at least 150 Social Services cases and become personally involved in trying to help some of families,
Shealy said she told her husband after the dream, adding, “I’ve got to get one good night’s sleep.
“If somebody’s not being treated right, it’s my responsibility to try and help,” she told The Buzz, adding she thought she was going to the State House to lower taxes after her 2012 election. “I didn’t think I was going to ... become a children’s advocate.”
Haley made no secret of where Shealy stands with her after the Senate panel grilled Social Services director Lillian Koller Wednesday.
Haley accused Shealy on Facebook of spreading a rumor that Koller is an atheist. Haley is defending Koller against Democratic cries for the director to step down and unrelenting questions from Republicans, including Shealy, about the agency.
Shealy fired back on her own Facebook page, saying she took the rumor to the Governor’s Office in confidence and was told Koller is Jewish – an answer she said she accepted and shared with others, adding someone owes her an apology.