by Chris Haire
You've got to give it to Nikki Haley. She's got a way with cutdowns. Whether she's calling a Post and Courier reporter a "little girl" or a Fox affiliate in Columbia a "tabloid news station," the guv knows how deliver a bitch slap like a proper pimp.
But nothing — and I mean nothing — measures up to the dig Haley got on state Rep. H. Boyd Brown, a 20-something Democrat who has been a persistent thorn in the governor's side.
Following today's Senate Medical Affairs Committee hearing in which legislators grilled four Haley staffers, Haley held a press conference in which she called Boyd "the legislator of Five Points." The committee held the hearing to determine whether or not the governor and her staff influenced the DHEC board to overturn an earlier vote preventing a Savannah River dredging project, one that was beneficial to the Port of Savannah and detrimental to the Port of Charleston — not to mention the entire state.
As many of you know — especially all of you rat bastards that went to the University of South Carolina — Five Points is the heart of Columbia's hard-partying drinking scene. It's also the regular stomping grounds for the Capital City's pickled livered politicos and its young, Twitter-war happy, and say-whatever-you-pay-them-to-say political operatives.
Well, as fate would have it, in the wee hours of Nov. 13, Brown found himself in Five Points, where he came across Katherine Veldran, the legislative liaison for the Haley administration. Boyd claims that he "had not celebrated" as much as his friends and "certainly not as much as Ms. Veldran." The two ultimately begin chatting, and during that conversation, Veldran apparently revealed that the Governor's Office was behind DHEC's decision to overturn an earlier vote against the pro-Savannah Port dredging project.
There was one problem: Veldran didn't technically make the admission. She simply said the DHEC ruling was the "best decision that we've made since we've been in office." Boyd, unfortunately, did not ask her to elaborate; specifically, he did not ask her to clarify who "we" was.
I spoke to Boyd last week about the matter and he appeared to remain convinced that Veldran, in a state of intoxication, had indicated that the Haley administration was behind the DHEC flip-flop. Be that as it may, Boyd's allegation and a subsequent letter he sent to the Senate Medical Affairs Committee was not ample proof to convict the Haley camp of bad behavior. In fact, the whole thing just ended up looking like a silly little footnote to an otherwise deeply troubling situation.
Today, the Senate committee brought up the alleged Five Points conversation, asking Veldran if she had told Boyd that the Haley administration was behind the DHEC vote. She said no. And without any substantial evidence suggesting otherwise, well, that was that. Soon after, the Medical Affairs Committee declared unequivocally that the Governor's Office hadn't influenced the DHEC board. (In Boyd's defense, Veldran publicly admitted that a conversation took place.)
Now, was the Senate declaration that Haley was innocent of all, um, charges necessarily the wisest move? No. Who knows what the future holds? Perhaps there is some document indicating that the Haley administration had coordinated the whole thing with the Georgia governor and the Georgia Ports Authority. Not that we would would be able to find that out from the S.C. governor's office: they've been regularly deleting their emails, in clear violation of the Public Records Act. Hmm.
But what about the Georgia Ports Authority? Do they have any emails from Haley?
Well, I've contacted the GPA and they've told me that there are no emails between Haley and Georgia Ports staff. They also say that no emails exist between Nikki and the head of the GPA board. However, as of today, the Georgia Governor's Office has yet to get back to me.
As for Boyd, he sent out a statement today responding to Haley's "Mayor Five Points" comment. Here's what he had to say:
“Tell the Governor that I’m the representative from Fairfield County.Here's a video of Haley's press conference:
She’s probably never heard of it because it’s not in Georgia. If she
had grown up in the community I grew up in, she wouldn’t have been
taught to lie as much as she has since taking office. I’ll live with
whatever she calls me, because in the end, it’s still better than
being known as a sellout,” said Brown.
Continuing, Brown said “it’s clear that the Governor is trying to
shift the focus from her lies and bad decisions to my character. I
welcome a character debate with someone who sports a background as
questionable as her own.”