Gov. Nikki Haley’s administration shot back at a 78-page report released Friday by a political opponent who contends the state has wasted millions of dollars in its efforts to lure businesses.
The S.C. Commerce Department found at least a dozen inaccurate statements about incentives offered industrial prospects in the report, issued by petition gubernatorial candidate Tom Ervin, according to the governor’s office.
Some of the discrepancies were detailed in a story by The State on Friday.
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The Haley administration said other errors in Ervin’s report included claims that:
• Gourmet food maker Amy’s Kitchen received $1 million to open a Greenville County plant that never opened. The Commerce Department, a cabinet agency of the governor, said no money was given to the company, and the grant was terminated.
• Dillon Furniture in Dillon County “received substantial tax benefits from (the) government” to add 107 jobs but ended up laying off some workers. The company did not get any job credits or state grants, the Commerce Department said.
• A pair of Beaufort County companies that closed, DUER and EcoDual, received a grant and tax credits. Neither company received those incentives because they did not meet performance goals, the state said.
• Two companies, Caterpillar and ZF Group, laid off workers after getting state aid for expansions. The layoffs took place at different company locations in South Carolina than where the expansions were announced, the Commerce Department said.
“Attacking companies ... that come to South Carolina (and) employ our citizens ... is the exact opposite of what Gov. Haley believes will move our state forward,” Haley spokesman Doug Mayer said. “Over the past four years, we have announced hundreds of new projects in every corner of our state, the vast majority of which are not only succeeding but creating countless jobs along the way.”
Ervin’s campaign said more proof is needed to show the state has not wasted taxpayer money on the projects. Ervin, a Greenville attorney and radio station owner who bowed out of the GOP primary to run as an independent, has pledged that, if elected, he would make economic incentive packages public.
“These are easy claims for Gov. Haley to make because there is no transparency in the process,” Ervin campaign spokesman Christian Hertenstein said. “She should provide the meeting minutes, correspondence, deliberations and the actual agreements. ... The only way to refute our findings is to come totally clean.”
Ervin’s report also said Haley was rewarded with nearly $130,000 in campaign contributions from companies and their executives after they received incentive-laden deals.
At a news conference outside the governor’s State House office Friday, Ervin said he would not accept campaign contributions from companies or their executives while they were negotiating incentives with the state.
Haley’s campaign has said it is not unusual for businesses and their executives to make contributions to the governor to show their support for her work.
Despite spending up to $5 million on his petition candidacy, Ervin, a former state lawmaker and judge, is running a distant third in the most recent poll, registering in the single-digits.
Haley led Democratic nominee Vincent Sheheen, a state senator from Camden, by 10 percentage points in a Winthrop Poll taken late last month. However, she remained below 50 percent.