Haley to repay state for security Fundraising trips not official business

Gov. Nikki Haley signed her "Can't Is Not an Option" memoir at Blue Bicycle Books on King Street on Monday night April 9, 2012. (Wade Spees/postandcourier.com)

COLUMBIA — Gov. Nikki Haley’s campaign will pay back thousands of dollars to the state this summer for the use of a state-funded security detail in connection with her fundraising trips, the state and the campaign said on Monday.

The trips are not related to state business, and state law forbids the use of state resources to further a political campaign.

State Law Enforcement Division spokeswoman Kathryn Richardson said the Haley for Governor campaign will repay SLED after the June 30 conclusion of the fiscal year.

Included in that reimbursement will be the campaign’s security costs from Haley’s first 18 months in office, Richardson said.

SLED did not have an estimate for what the governor’s tab will be, but a Freedom of Information Act request from earlier this year showed that the agency spent more than $16,000 on security costs related to Haley’s fundraising travels through December.

Those trips took Haley to California, New York, Florida, Texas and Washington, D.C.

The security costs were primarily from lodging and meals for agents on the governor’s security detail, according to SLED.

The total did not include the agents’ pay because they are salaried employees.

A state budget proviso dictates that SLED, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources and the S.C. Department of Public Safety will work with the governor’s office to provide security for the governor.

Haley’s office said in February that new SLED Chief Mark Keel initiated talks in late 2011 between the Cabinet agency and the governor’s office about reimbursing the state for campaign-related security.

A state government watchdog group and Democrats raised concerns about the delay in reimbursing SLED following reporting on the security costs of the governor’s fundraising journeys.

The leader of the watchdog group, Common Cause of South Carolina, said in February that the governor should have repaid the state long ago.

Haley’s campaign aide Marisa Crawford said Monday that it makes sense “from a bookkeeping standpoint” to write SLED one check at the end of the fiscal year.

State Ethics Commission attorney Cathy Hazelwood and Executive Director Herbert Hayden could not be reached for comment Monday, but Hazelwood has said she is not aware of any requirement dictating that gubernatorial administrations repay the state for security costs of political trips on a specific timeline.

Richardson with SLED said there will be no interest charged on the Haley campaign’s 18 months worth of security costs when the total is paid off this summer.

She said that starting next year, Haley’s campaign plans to pay back the preceding 12 months of campaign security costs at the end of each fiscal year.