Oh, yeah… what about Nikki Haley and the Savannah port?

Kristin Sosanie over at the SC Democratic Party brings up something I hadn’t thought about for awhile, but which we’re likely to hear more about as Nikki Haley tries to get re-elected:

Vice President Biden will be in South Carolina’s lowcountry today to talk about the importance of the Port of Charleston for the state and national economy. Governor Nikki Haley will attend, and we can only imagine she’s hoping beyond hope that the people of South Carolina have forgotten how she sold out the Port of Charleston and the South Carolina economy for $15,000 in campaign contributions.


Actions speak louder than words, and no matter what she says today, South Carolinians remember that when it came down to it Nikki Haley chose to give Georgia the competitive edge over South Carolina in order to stuff her campaign coffers. Take a look back at the coverage of Nikki Haley’s infamous “Savannah Sellout”:


Haley Received $15K from a Georgia fundraiser prior to port deal that gave Savannah an edge over Charleston and hurt the state’s economic future. “Gov. Nikki Haley faces increasing questions over her role in a decision that helped Savannah gain a competitive advantage over the Port of Charleston, the state’s main economic engine. New concerns arose over two recent events: Haley’s refusal to attend a Senate hearing next week on the matter, and revelations that she raised $15,000 at a Georgia fundraiser 13 days before the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control approved dredging Savannah’s harbor. That Nov. 10 approval came about six weeks after the agency denied the request over water-quality issues the dredging would cause.” [Post & Courier, 11/24/11]


Haley Sold Charleston Port Down River. “Last week, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal put out a statement to thank our own Nikki Haley ‘and others’ for helping out with the expansion of the Savannah port. That sure was nice of him. Of course it’s the least he could do, seeing as how our governor and “others” — her hand-picked Department of Health and Environmental Control board cronies — sold out South Carolina and the Charleston port for him. The DHEC board recently approved a controversial permit to dredge the Savannah River, a move that literally will put the river on life support and could cost this state billions.” [Post & Courier, 11/20/11]


Pay to Play Politics at its Worst. “An investigation has uncovered plane rides and large campaign contributions that some say show a cozy relationship between Gov. Haley and the DHEC board….Gov. Haley attended a fundraising event in Georgia just two weeks before DHEC approved the Georgia dredging permit. The event raised money from Georgia businesses to fund Gov. Haley’s 2014 re-election campaign. Before Gov. Haley appointed them to the DHEC board, campaign records show that Kenyon Wells and his family gave the governor $50,000, while DHEC Chair Allen Amsler gave $3,000. A third DHEC board member and Gov. Haley-appointee gave the governor $570 in 2010.” [WIS, 11/30/11]


Opposition from Democrats & Republicans. “Republican and “South Carolina House Republicans and Democrats alike blasted Gov. Nikki Haley on Tuesday for vetoing their resolution expressing displeasure with a state agency’s move to clear the way for the deepening of Georgia’s Port of Savannah. The House overrode Haley’s veto of that resolution by a 111-to-1 vote. ‘This is a political ploy,’ state Rep. Jim Merrill, R-Berkeley, said of Haley’s veto. ‘Once again, (Haley) is working more on behalf of Georgia, when it comes to this permit and this issue, than she is on South Carolina.’” [The State,2/28/12]

23 thoughts on “Oh, yeah… what about Nikki Haley and the Savannah port?

  1. Kathryn Fenner

    Shooting fish in a barrel on that one!

    Nikki’s likeliest response,”because jobs.” Not that that makes any sense, but….

  2. Bart

    Not defending Haley on her obvious screw-up and major political gaffe but give a prime example of any politician who hasn’t sold out to a major contributor or special interest group on either side of the political aisle.

    Too bad the only choices the voters of SC have in the next election for governor will be a rehash of the last one.

    Even the extremely wealthy politicians will sell their influence if the price is right.

  3. Bryan Caskey

    I’m just trying to get the facts straight on the Savannah/Charleston port deal. Leaving all the political stuff aside (for the moment), is this basically the correct fact pattern?

    1. The state of Georgia wanted to dredge the Savannah river so as to somehow make the port of Savannah more attractive/useful/productive.
    2. The state of Georgia needed SC’s consent (through DHEC) for the dredging.
    3. South Carolina (through DHEC) gave Georgia the approval to dredge the Savannah river.
    4. Folks associated with the port of Charleston are upset that this may/will cause them to lose shipping business to Savannah that otherwise was already going (or will go in the future) primarily through the port of Charleston.

    Am I understanding this correctly so far?

    1. Juan Caruso

      Yours is an accurate summary, Bryan, that those of us who respect facts more than political propaganda certainly respect.

      I would add another fact of great importance, at least to many minority folks south of Charleston: “With nearly 40 percent of Georgia Ports Authority workers living in South Carolina, deepening the Savannah River will have a major economic impact on Beaufort and Jasper counties”, Gov. Haley said. – Oct. 14, 2011, http://savannahnow.com/news

      Two years after Gov. Haley’s claim of SC workers comprising 40 percent of Georgia Ports Authority no one has credibly disputed her claim, not even Vincent Sheheen’s shady henchmen. We may conclude it to also be materially accurate.

        1. Doug Ross

          How about “paid liars”? “political mouthpieces of dubious ethics”? “consultants who can’t win elections but get paid like they can”?

  4. Brad Warthen Post author

    It’s been awhile, but as I recall, the DHEC board — entirely appointed by the governor — voted to approve Savannah’s dredging request about six weeks after the agency had DENIED the same request. Halfway between the denial and the thumbs-up came the Georgia fundraiser at which the gov raised $15,000.

    And, in a parallel process, the state Department of Natural Resources was adamantly opposed to the approval.

    That’s why Democrats and Republicans joined in a resolution decrying the DHEC board’s action — a resolution the governor vetoed, a veto that only one legislator voted to sustain.

    But it’s been a couple of years. Maybe I’m remembering it wrong.

  5. Juan Caruso

    “Halfway between the denial and the thumbs-up came the Georgia fundraiser at which the gov raised $15,000.” – Brad W.

    Your circumstanial, Fitz-type, half-baked factoid does even hold water, Brad. It ignores two little details. First, governors have not sold illegal influence for a paltry $15,000 in a long, long time. Secondly, how much of Nikki’s $15k came from representatives or employees of the Georgia Port Authority? a) $25, b) 50, c) $75, d) None.

    1. Doug Ross

      Exactly, Juan. If Nikki Haley sold out the port for $15K, what did SCANA get from Lindsey Graham for their $50K+ donation last year to his campaign?

  6. Steve Gordy

    We needn’t worry. Mark Sanford and Tim Scott will make sure the Port of Charleston gets a fair cut of Federal funds for dredging and any other needed port improvements.

  7. Bryan Caskey

    Who’s paying for the dredging? Georgia, I presume.

    If so, it kind of seems like a no-brainier to say yes. Our neighbor has basically asked us permission to improve their own infrastructure. If they make their port more attractive/useful, with some sort of comparative advantage over Charleston, maybe that means we should improve the Charleston port. Other than the environmental objection (which I dismiss as frivolous) I don’t see why we South Carolinian’s should object to Georgia investing in their port.

    Competition isn’t a bad thing.

    Does anyone have a non-environmental reason for why SC shouldn’t consent to GA’s request to dredge the river and improve their port?

    1. barry

      As I recall, Haley approving Georgia’s port hurt Jasper County’s port badly.

      Rumor was that she not only got the $15,000, but also her approval also landed her a prime speaking slot at the Republican National Convention because a Georgia big wig was on the selection committee for the convention.

      1. Juan Caruso

        “An Army Corps of Engineers study said “the proposed deepening of the Savannah harbor would not take business from another port,” and that increased shipping will require deepening both the Savannah and Charleston ports. … [inexpert] critics said the decision would harm the environment and the Port of Charleston.” – http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20111127/PC05/311279911

        Have inexpert alarmists and property owners not yet realize that SC’s tourism mecca, Hilton Head Island, is in considerably more health, economic, and environmental harms way from any ‘upset’ weapons grade plutonium effluents getting into the adjacent Savannah River from the Savannah river Site (SRS). the nation’s only mixed oxide fuel (MOX) manufacturing plant?

        After $7.7 Billion has been spent in preparation for MOX operation in 2014, the United States ‘was reported to be’ considering abandonment of the MOX facility. If stalled, plutonium from Russia will be stored at SRS instead of the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository that the current administration has also stalled.

        Political tit-for-tat games are being played in Washington. Harry Reid is pulling the natsy strings, not Nikki Haley.

        1. barry

          word games from the corp of engineers doesn’t really help.

          Won’t ‘take business away from another port”

          There are about 10 different ways to parce that carefully worded statement.

          “If the plan to deepen the Savannah River to 48 feet goes ahead, the prospect for a 50-foot-deep channel to serve Jasper would be remote” said State Ports Authority officials, including Chief Executive Jim Newsome.

  8. Mark Stewart

    The bottom line is that the deepening of the upriver Port of Savannah is a negative for the State of South Carolina. While I do not believe that a Governor of one state should retard another’s economic vitality; I absolutely subscribe to the view that a Governor ought to be the champion of the state which elected that person.

    What is troubling is that the negotiated settlement went not to the people of South Carolina in some form of quid pro quo, but that instead Haley gained personal advantage for granting her support to Georgia. That is beyond the pale.

    1. Juan Caruso

      “Haley gained personal advantage for granting her support to Georgia.”

      With whom or what exactly has our Governor gained “personal advantage”, and what do you consider that advantage to have been, Mark?

      As a nonpartisan, independent voter, I see no advantage due Haley from “granting her support to Georgia”, except perhaps unspecified quid pro quo aide from RINOs like Sen. Graham, and that remains very doubtful considering his ineffectiveness lately.

      I only vote for people who do what they say, and say what they really are. Beasley never got a single vote from me. Haley promised recorded voting from the legislature and delivered it (now on line). recorded voting had been overdue in the last century, Mark.

        1. Juan Caruso

          Barry, that has to be the most lame and pathetic rebuttal ever offered. Try that one in court and see what it gets you.

      1. Juan Caruso

        Historical vindication, Bryan. That is the most for which any politician could hope in today’s libelous climate. However, I some Governors would aparently disagree with that (e.g. Rod Blagojevich).

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