The House Ethics Committee met Friday morning to discuss whether to reopen an investigation into possible ethics violations by Gov. Nikki Haley. The meeting room was packed with lawmakers, press, political aides and onlookers, all waiting to see whether the governor would face further scrutiny over allegations that she illegally lobbied for her employer during her time as a state legislator.
One person who remained conspicuously absent from the hearing was the committee’s secretary, Republican Rep. Joan Brady — a staunch ally of the governor’s. Brady’s staff reportedly told WIS-TV’s Jody Barr she was speaking to a conference in Charleston during the previously-scheduled ethics meeting, later adding that Brady was never even notified of the hearing.
That seems to have come as a surprise to the rest of the committee, which delayed the meeting’s start for nearly 15 minutes while waiting for Brady before beginning without her.
“Anyone who would duck such an important committee hearing doesn’t deserve to be in the legislature,” commented House Democratic Caucus operative Tyler Jones.
Brady’s Ferris Bueller moment comes less than a day after her Democratic opponent for House District 78, Columbia attorney Beth Bernstein, called on the Republican lawmaker to “stop protecting” the governor in the ethics hearings surrounding Gov. Haley’s extracurricular activities while in the House.
“Rep. Brady has demonstrated … that she is someone who simply looks out for her fellow Republicans,” Bernstein said. “The people of South Carolina want transparency and accountability from their elected leaders and those leaders need to do what is right for our state. Unfortunately, Rep. Brady has decided thus far to be an advocate of the status quo instead of fighting for real reform.”
Earlier this month, the Ethics Committee found there was probable cause that Gov. Haley violated ethics laws during her time as a Lexington state representative. But the GOP-dominated committee then voted to end the investigation, overruling the lone Democrat on the panel.
After considering a resolution by Rep. James Smith (D-Richland) that would direct the Ethics Committee to reopen the investigation, committee members voted to seek more documents regarding then-Rep. Haley’s work for Lexington Medical Center and Wilbur Smith, such as W-2s and other employment documents. The information would be due by Friday, May 25 — so hopefully Rep. Brady can get that on her calendar by then.