Haley reimburses for campaign travel
COLUMBIA — Gov. Nikki Haley’s campaign has reimbursed taxpayers $7,600 for out-of-state fundraisers over the last fiscal year, as per an agreement with agencies that provide her security detail, her campaign spokesman told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
The campaign mailed checks to three separate agencies July 19. The payments covered agents’ costs for nine private fundraisers during trips to California, Florida, New York, Texas, Ohio and Michigan, between July 1, 2012, and June 30.
Broken down, the campaign paid $3,105 to the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division, $3,236 to the Department of Natural Resources and $1,268 to the Department of Public Safety, Rob Godfrey said.
State law requires a security detail for the governor. But it also bars taxpayer funds from being used for campaign events. Haley agreed in 2011 to reimburse for campaign-related security at the end of each fiscal year.
Those payments will soon occur more frequently. Following Monday’s official launch of Haley’s re-election bid, the campaign decided to reimburse quarterly due to the increase in political activity, Godfrey said.
Under an arrangement with SLED Chief Mark Keel, the campaign reimburses only for extra expenses incurred by agents because of a fundraiser, such as an extra hotel night and additional meals.
Authorities confirmed Monday that Haley was at a fundraiser in Greensboro, N.C., on June 27 when an agent driving her crashed into a concrete pole in the roadway. Haley and two other passengers weren’t injured.
Godfrey said there’s no reimbursement for that trip because it wasn’t a fundraiser for her.
According to reports, Haley was slated to attend the first of a two-day fundraiser supporting North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory’s agenda. Tickets to a dinner with the two fellow Republicans cost $1,000 per couple, while tickets to the entire retreat at the Grandover Resort cost $10,000 per couple.
State Ethics Commission director Herb Hayden said state law requires the governor to reimburse taxpayers for events related to her election, not events for other politicians.
“If it’s an event for her, definitely she needs to reimburse. If she’s attending some other event in her capacity as governor, it’s not a campaign event for her,” Hayden said. “Regardless of where she goes or what she’s doing, there’s supposed to be an agent with her. The cost of an agent is not an additional cost because she’s at a political event.”
North Carolina residents donated $113,500 to Haley’s campaign in June – more than half of that coming from three dates: June 19, June 21 and June 28, indicating she had fundraisers for herself in the state. That included $26,500 received from 14 people the day after her dinner with McCrory. She received $6,250 from five others on June 30.
But Godfrey said there were no additional costs incurred by Haley’s security detail for any fundraiser she held in North Carolina.
Keel has said he met with Haley’s office about the reimbursement issue in August 2011, after he took the agency’s helm, because he knew reimbursements weren’t being made. Keel, a 30-year SLED veteran, had returned to SLED on Haley’s appointment after a stint as head of the Department of Public Safety under former Gov. Mark Sanford.
The campaign paid more than $7,700 in July 2012 to cover out-of-state fundraising events during the first 18 months of her administration.
Last year, former House Minority Leader Harry Ott proposed legislation barring public officials from using taxpayer-funded security and transportation on personal trips. It gained no traction. Ott, who resigned his seat in June to take a federal post, said Haley’s book tour in New York and Washington, D.C. prompted his proposal. The governor’s publisher covered her travel and lodging costs, but not her security.