To be honest, we didn’t really care about the story on Gov. Nikki Haley’s daughter getting a job in the State House gift shop — until the governor made it a story herself by going to war against The State Newspaper, that is.
Earlier this week, FITSNews reported that 14-year-old Rena Haley is working a summer job in a gift shop across the hall from her mother’s office in the lower level of the State House. The store is run by the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, whose chief is appointed by the governor.
The State’s Gina Smith ran down the story as well, though her story doesn’t appear on the paper’s website. The newspaper’s content-sharing affiliates have also taken down their links to the story, though a cached version on the Rock Hill Herald’s website can be read here:
Parks, Recreation and Tourism officials Wednesday referred questions to the governor’s office on whether the teen’s job was advertised, whether it is part of the agency’s budget and whether existing gift shop workers’ hours were cut to accommodate Haley’s daughter.
Dick Harpootlian, chairman of the S.C. Democratic Party, said the issue is not Haley’s daughter but the Republican governor’s judgment. “You don’t use your position to get your daughter a job. It’s not about the daughter. It’s about lack of judgment by the governor,” Harpootlian said. “The appearance of impropriety doesn’t seem to bother the governor.”
The governor’s office declined to address details about young Haley’s job, first reported by a Columbia blog, citing security concerns. “The State newspaper … should be ashamed for printing details of a 14 year-old’s life and whereabouts, against the wishes of her parents and the request of the chief of SLED, who is ultimately responsible for her security,” said Haley’s spokesman, Rob Godfrey. “We have nothing more to say.”
Godfrey’s comment wasn’t entirely accurate, however, because Gov. Haley seems to have plenty more to say on the matter. Just days after Democratic Sen. Joel Lourie suggested that the governor “get off Facebook” and focus on her job, Haley once again took to the social media site and accused The State of being “biased” for “going after” her daughter.
The governor also got State Law Enforcement Division chief Mark Keel to express concern over Rena Haley’s safety regarding The State’s story, but the cached version also explains why such an excuse is flimsy at best:
In the past, Haley has not expressed concerns about her family’s security, including her family’s location and pictures in postings on her public Facebook page.
Since taking office in January 2011, Haley also has posted about her daughter heading to dance recitals, shadowing her mother at work, serving as a vacation Bible school counselor, running in a race and working her first babysitting job. Haley also mentioned the name of her daughter’s orthodontist in a posting.
We do agree that the children of politicians should generally be considered off-limits, though it’s understandable that some might question the nepotistic appearance of Gov. Haley’s political appointee hiring her daughter. Still, let’s be real — a 14-year-old girl’s summer job should be pretty far down on the South Carolina political world’s priorities list. We’re far more concerned about the Palmetto State’s still-dismal unemployment rate, which climbed to 9.4% last month.
“As the nation’s unemployment rate continues to drop or hold steady, South Carolina’s rate is going in the wrong direction and at an alarmingly fast rate,” Democratic state Rep. Leon Stavrinakis commented on Friday, accusing the governor of being more concerned with political points than good policy. “The last place potential businesses want to relocate is a state led by a governor who is only interested in being a celebrity, cutting education, and refusing to invest in infrastructure.”
While we don’t care one bit whether Gov. Haley’s daughter works in the State House gift shop, Gov. Haley’s visceral, public reaction to The State’s story — combined with Chief Keel’s bogus statement about security concerns — certainly gives the appearance of protesting a little too much. With the governor taking national criticism over her rejected vetoes of funding for rape crisis centers, teacher raises and arts programs, going after The State for ‘attacking her family’ could serve as an easy political win with a base that simply thrives on tales of media bias.
Just as curious is The State’s decision to pull the story. Palmetto Public Record was told that only The State publisher Henry Haitz may comment on the newspaper’s stories, and Haitz has not responded to an inquiry. We’ll be sure to update this story if and when he does.