Wednesday, April 4, 2012

SC Gov. Nikki Haley's Embarrassing Press Tour


Governor Nikki Haley from South Carolina is on an almost shameless press tour for her her book Can't Is Not An Option about growing up as an Indian American in a small southern town. And along the way, she is still trying to campaign a bit for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Is she helping him? Not too much.

She told ABC News on April 2nd that she would not serve as Vice President if Romney asked her to run, and that's probably a good thing. I'm not sure why he would ask her anyway, since her endorsement early on in the Primary season failed to deliver her state, which was taken by Newt Gingrich by 13 percentage points. And there's not much evidence that she would help deliver any other Southern states, either, although she might have diversity appeal as an Indian-American governor in the same generation as Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. The problem with both Haley and Jindal is that they do not represent their ethnic community all that well, and what should be seen as a great plus for diversity in the Republican Party is just an embarrassment.

For instance, remember when Jindal said we don't need scientific stuff like volcano monitors, but then volcanoes shut down airports in Alaska, not to mention all of Europe? And he turned down $90 million in stimulus money on conservative principal, then begged Obama for help when the Gulf oil spill happened? Why would Nikki Haley want to be compared to him for any reason, even ethnicity?

Unfortunately, Nikki Haley is about the same type of Governor, with the same propensity to flip-flop, or the "do as I say, not as I do." She may enjoy turning down Medicaid for poor people, but just wait till a hurricane threatens Charleston and the resort areas along the SC Coast, and she will have her hand out for federal disaster relief, you can bet on that.

One subject she won't be discussing on the road is her family's scandal with the IRS. Her parents are being accused of raising funds for her gubernatorial campaign through their non-profit Sikh Temple. That's a political no-no. The Palmetto Public Record reports:
According to documents obtained by Palmetto Public Record, the Internal Revenue Service has been investigating since March 2011 whether the Sikh Religious Society of South Carolina illegally supported a political candidate during Haley’s campaign for governor, violating the organization’s tax-exempt status.
As a registered nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, the Sikh temple is “absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for elective public office.” According to the IRS, even written statements of position in favor of a candidate “clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity” and may result in revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.
But documents which appear to be the temple’s own newsletters clearly advocate for Haley’s election, asking (and later thanking) members for their political and financial support. The organization also seems to have held a September 2010 fundraiser for Haley’s gubernatorial campaign, with four of the five organizers listed on the temple’s board of trustees.
And that's only part the family's problems. There is the mystery revolving around a large bank loan the Randhawa family took out to help finance a new Sikh Temple. Contractors were never paid, and the temple was never completed, but at the same time Nikki Haley was elected Governor and her family built a huge new lake house. The The Palmetto Public Record reports:
In 2009, the Sikh Society of South Carolina took out a $750,000 loan from BB&T Bank with the help of bank president Mike Brenan. The purpose of the loan was to build a new temple on the Sikh Society’s land in Chapin, but for some reason the contractors never got paid. At least five lawsuits have been filed against the Sikh Society since 2010, alleging that the group bilked contractors out of nearly $130,000.Meanwhile, the new temple sits half-complete off Broad River Road as weeds take over the abandoned construction site.
In order to recoup their money, the contractors have asked a judge to foreclose on the temple and sell the land, leaving the Sikh Society without a place to worship.
So what happened to the money? Did it “disappear” into the Randhawa family’s million-dollar waterfront home on Lake Murray, or (as our sources have speculated) did some of it go into the governor’s campaign account? Whatever happened to the money, we do know what happened to Brenan: Gov. Nikki Haley appointed him to the state Board of Education.
Yesterday, Haley appeared on ABC's The View, which was...interesting...

Video Via The Frisky 

Sympathetic conservative Elizabeth Hasselbeck tried to prompt some kind of logic out of Gov. Haley, but Haley flip-flopped aimlessly, first making the bizarre statement that "Women don't care about contraception," then telling an incredulous Joy Behar, "We don't have to have a government mandate telling us when we have to have it and when we don't." Duh, that makes perfect sense, and yet that's exactly what Romney and Santorum and a host of gargoyles like Rick Perry want to do by getting rid of funding for Planned Parenthood. Gov. Haley Meets the Etch-A-Sketch by defending the indefensible. It's sort of easy to see why she and Romney are sympatico.

Amanda Marcotte writing for Slate points out that such a comment may display another trait in common with Romney - a sense of entitlement and disconnect from ordinary people.
Haley may just be looking at this issue with blinkers, and when she says "women," she means "women like me," i.e., conservative. It is true that conservative women are less supportive than women as a whole of attempts to make contraception access easier. That's because the war on women is just as much about class as it is about gender....For women for whom $50 or $100 a month isn't very much money, this sort of thing probably doesn't matter. In fact, for many conservatives, it's clear that they believe protected sex is a luxury that should only be available, like fine champagne or HBO subscriptions, to those who can afford it.

Haley also appeared on Stephen Colbert's Comedy Central show where she made an even stranger comment, via Huffington Post:
Governor Nikki Haley (R) said she wears heels as "ammunition" in the tough political climate of South Carolina.
"It's a blood sport," Haley said Tuesday on The Colbert Report. "I wear heels and it's not for a fashion statement, it's ammunition."
"You keep them sharpened?" host Stephen Colbert asked.
"I do. It's for kicking," Haley replied.

She better keep them sharpened, for sure.

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