Opponent Accuses Nikki Haley of ‘Pay-to-Play’ Politics

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Peter Fricke Contributor
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Tom Ervin, the self-described “independent Republican” running for governor of South Carolina, released a report Friday accusing incumbent Gov. Nikki Haley of “using a ‘pay-to-play’ strategy to pump contributions into her re-election campaign.”

Although South Carolina does not maintain a public database of projects that have received assistance from the state, Ervin says he “identified 170 different projects that qualified for grants, tax credits, and other support from Haley’s administration…from a variety of public sources.” He then “looked at each project for potential conflicts of interest, economic issues with the company, and other readily available issues.”

Gov. Haley has made job creation one of her top issues in the campaign, claiming on her campaign website that, “we’ve announced more than 56,000 jobs in 45 of 46 counties.” These figures, it goes on to say, demonstrate that “Nikki’s fight to take care of the businesses we have and recruit new ones to our state is paying off.” (RELATED: Leaving NY: American Tactical Imports Announces Relocation to South Carolina)

In the report, Ervin counters that, of “the jobs she’s claimed to create, thousands of them never happened or fell apart.” He also points out that, “some of the companies she recruited to South Carolina now appear to be failing.”

One example that Erwin cites is a company called Amy’s Kitchen, which was reportedly given at least $1 million worth of incentives to open a new facility in the state in 2011, which was expected to create 700 jobs and generate $63 million in investment. However, “seven months later, the plan was scuttled.”

Another company, Dillon Furniture Manufacturing, received “training funds and job development credits, which will be available if hiring targets are met,” according to a press release from Gov. Haley cited in the report. (RELATED: Nikki Haley Says She’s Victim of ‘Dirty Blogger Politics’ Again)

Those hiring targets referred to 107 jobs the company planned to create by expanding its operations, but within months, “the company laid off a dozen workers…due to the slow economy.” The report did not mention whether the state withdrew its assistance after the layoffs were announced.

Ervin’s report also asserts that, “Haley’s campaign and non-profit have already received well over $100,000 from companies that got big benefits from the state.” Those benefits reportedly include millions of dollars in grants and billions of dollars in tax credits, leading Ervin to conclude, “Investing in South Carolina is simple: Send Nikki a check, then sit back and get rich.” (RELATED: Nikki Haley Denies Using Office for Personal Gain)

Among the most generous of Haley’s corporate contributors was Michelin, which donated at least $5,000 to her campaign while also sponsoring numerous events for her at a cost of more than $45,000, according to the report.

South Carolina awarded Michelin $158 million in tax credits, rebates, and reductions between 2005 and 2012, and continued to benefit from seven- and eight-figure incentive packages throughout Haley’s term in office.

Other companies that Ervin claims made donations to Gov. Haley’s campaign while receiving significant state subsidies include Bridgestone, BMW, McCall’s, Siemens, Caterpillar, and Schaeffler Group.

A spokesperson for Haley’s campaign told The State that, “the business contributions are a sign of approval for the Lexington Republican’s policies,” and added, “Every candidate seeks donations from those who agree with their views or think they’ve done a good job.”

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