COLUMBIA — South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and the heads of state police and ethics agencies have signed an agreement on the handling of security expenses when governors attend political events, according to documents obtained Monday by The Associated Press.
The agreement, signed Friday by Haley, State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel and State Ethics Commission director Herb Hayden, defines what sorts of costs should be reimbursed by Haley and future South Carolina governors.
Questions about Haley’s reimbursements arose after she attended a June fundraiser supporting North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory’s agenda. Hayden said Haley’s campaign didn’t have to pay her security costs because the event wasn’t for her, insisting she and other politicians who are assigned public vehicles must reimburse only for events specifically held to raise money for them.
South Carolina law requires a security detail for the governor but also bars public funds or equipment from being used for campaign events.
In the agreement, security costs for “campaign-related events” — which include fundraisers hosted for the governor or events and rallies planned by the governor’s campaign — are considered reimbursable, like hotel costs, meals and mileage. Security work done in advance of the governor’s arrival is not reimbursable, but overtime salary costs would be.
The agreement also notes that, even if the governor receives a campaign contribution at an event, that event does not become specifically become classified as “campaign-related.” In June, when Haley was slated to attend the first of a two-day fundraiser for the Renew North Carolina Foundation, her campaign collected more than $40,000 from 21 North Carolina residents from June 27 through June 30, according to second-quarter filings.
In July, Haley’s campaign reimbursed three state agencies a total of $7,610 for her security agents’ extra costs during out-of-state fundraisers in the fiscal year that ended June 30. That did not include the Greensboro, N.C., trip.
Common Cause, a government watchdog group headed by John Crangle, has asked Hayden to reconsider his decision on Haley’s trip or to seek an attorney general’s opinion on the matter. Hayden has previously said he stood by his decision but would bring up the matter at the commission’s next meeting, which is in November.
In a statement provided Monday to AP, Hayden said he hoped the agreement would ameliorate any prospective issues.
“This agreement will serve as a benchmark for all future campaign activities and bring clarity to an obvious area of confusion,” Hayden said.
Crangle, who had not reviewed the agreement, said he felt it was surely inadequate.
“I think Herb Hayden is just plain wrong on the law,” Crangle said. “And if this agreement is posted on Herb Hayden’s theory . . . then it’s worse than nothing.”
A SLED spokesman did not immediately return a message seeking comment on the agreement. In a statement, Haley campaign spokesman Rob Godfrey reiterated Hayden’s sentiments.
“We have always followed the guidance of law enforcement and the ethics commission, did so in this instance, and will continue to do so going forward,” Godfrey said. “But we also look for opportunities to clarify and strengthen these guidelines not just for us but for future governors, and, in working with the ethics commission and law enforcement to finalize this unprecedented agreement, Governor Haley’s successors can be clear on reimbursement issues.”
Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP
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