South Carolina Governor Faces Scrutiny Over Trips
By John Gramlich, Staff Writer
Haley, a Tea Party-backed Republican who has decried wasteful spending since she took office this year, is fending off criticism that the trip was more of a personal vacation than an economic development mission.
A week ago, The (Charleston) Post and Courier printed a scathing story finding that Haley's June trip to Paris and Munich cost taxpayers more than $127,000, but has not resulted in any tangible progress on the governor's self-proclaimed mission for the visit: "jobs, jobs, jobs."
"Haley," the paper wrote, "spent the cash so she, her husband and the rest of the state's contingent could stay in five-star hotels; sip cocktails at the Paris Ritz; dine on what an invitation touted as 'delicious French cuisine' at a swanky rooftop restaurant; and rub elbows with the U.S. Ambassador to France at his official residence near the French presidential palace."
Haley denounced the story as an attack piece and, on Friday (September 9), substantially escalated matters when she called the 25-year-old reporter who wrote it a " little girl ," according to The Associated Press. "God bless that little girl at The Post and Courier ," the governor said. "I mean her job is to try and create conflict. My job is to create jobs. In the end I'm going to have jobs to show for it."
Haley later apologized for the remark, but the controversy may not be over yet. Today (September 12), The Post and Courier reports on another trip Haley and her top staffers recently took, a $3,641 Labor Day retreat to Kiawah Island off South Carolina, "where they dined on Beaufort seafood stew and stayed overnight in luxury beach cottages to escape the political bubble and plan their strategy."
Some observers, however, see nothing wrong with the governor's staff retreat, particularly since it was paid for with campaign money, unlike her previous trip to Europe. "You've got to get away from the pressure of the governor's office," a chief of staff to former Governor Carroll Campbell tells The Post and Courier . "That is very common. It is useful and it should not be criticized."