Gov. Nikki Haley has received about $130,000 in campaign and inaugural contributions from two-dozen companies that received tax breaks, grants and other economic-development incentives from the state, according to one of her November election opponents.
In a 78-page report to be released Friday, petition candidate Tom Ervin also details industrial projects that failed to meet job goals or stay open despite getting promises of state aid.
The report, obtained by The State, is an attempt to blunt the centerpiece of Haley’s re-election campaign — the first-term Republican’s jobs and economic-development record.
“She has misled South Carolina,” said Ervin, a former Greenville state lawmaker and judge who bowed out of the GOP primary in the spring to run as an independent in the fall.
Haley’s campaign said the business contributions are a sign of approval for the Lexington Republican’s policies, including announcing 57,000 jobs that helped lower the state’s jobless rate.
“The governor’s opponents can whine all they want, but the great news for South Carolina is ... we have one of the fastest growing economies on the East Coast,” Haley campaign spokeswoman Chaney Adams said. “That didn’t happen by accident. Gov. Haley’s pro-jobs agenda is working for the people of our state.”
Economists have told The State that Haley’s pro-business policies are one of several reasons for the state’s economic rebound. The national economy’s recovery also has helped all states, the experts said.
Also, Haley’s job numbers are questionable.
A review by The State last month found only about 56 percent of jobs promised by the state’s biggest industrial deals in 2011 and 2012 have been filled. That review also found Haley was including at least 1,800 jobs in her jobs figures from plants that had closed.
‘Send Nikki a check, then sit back’
Ervin’s report comes as the Greenville attorney struggles to win votes as a petition candidate.
Ervin, who calls himself an independent Republican, was a distant third in a Winthrop University poll taken late last month. His 4 percent showing lagged Haley’s 44 percent and Democratic nominee Vincent Sheheen’s 34 percent.
Ervin’s mostly self-funded campaign has spent an estimated $4 million to $5 million so far — more than what Haley spent during her entire 2010 race. At least one tally of television advertising spending shows that Ervin is outspending Sheheen, a Camden state senator, this year.
The report on Haley’s economic-development record is meant to draw attention to whether S.C. taxpayers are getting their money’s worth with her jobs push, Ervin said in an interview.
“Voters should understand that Gov. Haley’s numbers don’t add up,” he said.
Ervin’s report used information gathered from news releases, media reports, company analyst transcripts and interviews. The campaign declined to disclose who compiled the report or its price tag.
According to that report, Haley accepted contributions from at least 26 companies and their executives that received incentives to open or expand plants in the state. Her campaign received $89,200 in donations, while another $40,000 went to her inauguration.
“Investing in South Carolina is simple: Send Nikki a check, then sit back and get rich,” the report said.
Aircraft maker Boeing and its employees gave $12,650 to Haley’s campaign, the report said. Tire makers Michelin and Bridgestone combined to give $27,500 to the governor’s campaign and inauguration. Auto maker BMW kicked in $10,000 for Haley’s inauguration. The owner of aerospace components maker Tighitco, Anita Zucker, gave $7,000 to Haley’s campaign and $15,000 to her charitable foundation.
“Every candidate seeks donations from those who agree with their views or think they’ve done a good job,” Haley spokeswoman Adams said. “It should be no surprise that job creators and business groups, like the (state) Chamber of Commerce, are supporting Gov. Haley because she’s the proven jobs governor.”
Ervin’s report also says Haley’s administration gave incentives to companies that have laid off workers or closed:
• Arms maker PTR Industries — which received tax breaks, job-creation credits and a grant — laid off some workers after Haley visited the Horry County plant and received a commemorative rifle in July. The S.C. Commerce Department said the company still has time to meet job goals to receive state aid. A $350,000 grant issued for building improvements has not been spent.
• Fiber maker Naturally Advanced Technologies, which promised 25 jobs in a 2012 announcement, has suspended its operations in Florence County. The company has until 2017 to receive a $263,500 state grant for building upgrades and job credits, the state Commerce Department said.
• A&K Textiles did not fill any of its 120 promised jobs before closing in Barnwell County, the report. The Commerce Department said an affiliated company operated for three months before closing in July. The state said it is working to get back $50,000 spent for building improvements.
• Engine components maker Cummins received job credits for an expansion in 2011 after laying off 145 S.C. employees in 2008 and 2009, the report said. The company has five years to meet job goals to win state aid, the Commerce Department said.
The report also questioned some of the Haley administration’s calls on industrial prospects.
A pair of Marlboro County industrial announcements in 2011 were not properly vetted in what Ervin’s report called “big plans, big scam.”
Aluminum fabricator ECAPS operated for a short time before closing, while incubator 5-Star USA never opened, Ervin’s report said. The two companies had promised more than 1,000 jobs in a county with one of the state’s highest jobless rates.
The companies did not receive state grants, but Marlboro County received a $325,000 grant to buy the industrial site, the Commerce Department said. The county also kicked in money for the site. Marlboro County still owns the site and is close to landing two businesses, county officials said.
‘She’s a wonderful governor’
The report also questioned why the state would give more than $1 million in grants to television maker Element Electronics to open an Winnsboro plant when its chief executive was sued for $9 million in connection with a Ponzi scheme.
Element boss Michael O’Shaughnessy said he was not part of the Ponzi scheme involving an executive at a different company. O’Shaughnessy said he was one of several people sued in an effort to recover money lost.
Ervin’s report noted O’Shaughnessy gave Haley’s campaign $3,500 this year.
O’Shaughnessy said Ervin did not take into account that the governor helped convince him to bring 325 jobs and millions in investments to South Carolina.
“I think that’s silly,” O’Shaughnessy said of the report. “She’s a wonderful governor.”