By going after Hayes, Haley tells us she’s not really serious about ethics at all

Sen. Wes Hayes, a.k.a. "Mr. Ethics"

Sen. Wes Hayes, a.k.a. “The Dean of Ethics”

First, she went after Hugh Leatherman and Luke Rankin, and I did nothing. Or nothing beyond a mention in an open thread.

Now, she’s gone far too far:

Gov. Nikki Haley is backing another opponent of a longtime S.C. senator.

Wes Climer cropped

Wes Climer

Haley is expected to endorse Republican Wes Climer, a Rock Hill financial adviser running to unseat state Sen. Wes Hayes of Rock Hill, Climer said Wednesday.

Haley will campaign with Climer, a former York County GOP chairman, at a barbecue at his home next Thursday at 6 p.m.

The endorsement pits Haley against Hayes, who has been in the state Senate since 1991 and served in the S.C. House since 1985 beforehand.

“Wes Climer is a conservative businessman who is leading the fight for term limits, lower taxes and good government reform,” Haley said in the release. “If we are going to change the way the Senate works, we are going to have to change senators.”…

In other words, she’s saying Climer is an unknown about who we know one thing: He would be a reliable vote for trashing government. Another Tea Partier. Another of those who have eviscerated the Republican Party from within.

Because if what she cares about is “good government reform,” she’d be going all-out to re-elect Wes Hayes.

On one level, this is reminiscent of the governor’s capricious replacement of Darla Moore on the USC board of trustees with an unknown guy who had contributed to her campaign. I mean it’s like that in the sense that she wants to replace someone who has a stellar record of solid support and service to the people of South Carolina with a political nonentity who can be relied upon to do the governor’s bidding.

Wes Hayes is one of the best members of the S.C. Senate, particularly on the issue of ethics. Even the Democrats call him “the Dean of Ethics” (and by the way, that link shows you just how far Sen. Hayes has gone to avoid offending the governor — something he has reason to rethink right about now).

No one who is serious about ethics would lift a finger to help an opponent of Wes Hayes.

This is outrageous. This is the most Mark Sanford thing Nikki Haley has done in quite some while…

46 thoughts on “By going after Hayes, Haley tells us she’s not really serious about ethics at all

  1. Doug Ross

    So how would the “Dean of Ethics” rate in terms of policing the body he presumably presides over?

    Do you ever measure people on actual performance or just on what they say? If he’s good at what he does, we wouldn’t NEED ethics reform.

    Haley has it exactly right: ” “If we are going to change the way the Senate works, we are going to have to change senators.” Thinking the Senate will change without changing the people in the Senate is lunacy. “No, really, THIS TIME they mean it when they say they’ll police themselves. Really, TRUST US!!!”

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Oh, I knew you’d go for her pitch hook, line and sinker.

      You get confused. You like to hold individuals — even the very best individuals, the ones you should be cheering for — responsible for the failing of the crowd.

      The S.C. Senate has an abysmal record on ethics. If you want to change that, your best bet is to elect more people like Wes Hayes, not replace him with some newbie who wouldn’t have a prayer of getting anyone else in the body to go along with him on anything — ESPECIALLY since he’d be seen as Nikki’s boy.

      But I know NOTHING I say will persuade you to believe the truth here. Someone says “Replace experience with inexperience,” and they’ve got you…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        It’s just SO freaking maddening. Doug’s standard is “Did he magically make the other 45 senators join him in doing the right thing?” And if he didn’t, the hell with him.

        We need to elect Doug to the Senate, and watch him wave his wand and make the majority do what he wants them to. Then, he MIGHT develop an appreciation for the power of institutional inertia, and be disabused of his notion that everything is in the hands of each and every individual…

        1. Doug Ross

          Give me a chance, Brad. I wouldn’t play nice with the Good Old Boys. I would expose anyone who broke the rules. I would call out every attempt to waste time or money. I would record and publish every conversation held with any member or lobbyist. Every single meeting I attended would be open to the public. I would publish my tax forms and reveal the source of every penny earned. I would also prevent any member of my family from working for the government. And I would quit after 8 years and hope my constituents begged me to run for higher office.

          Next you’ll tell me that won’t work because I need to be able to get along with the good old boys and gain experience to work with them on how to compromise my principles and learn how to profit from access to tax dollars. Well, I wouldn’t be there to make friends and make millions. I’d be there to DO THINGS.

          We don’t need a magic wand. We need a garbage disposal.

            1. doug ross

              Keep wishing, and hoping, and dreaming that one day Hugh and pals will get it right.

              All you need to be a legislator is a room temperature IQ and a smile.

          1. Barry

            I will say this Doug- as a former senate page who worked for a committee chairman- as a new senator, the other senators wouldn’t even listen to you. They just aren’t interested.

            I saw it many times. It’s not personal. It’s the way the entire body works. They were treated that way and the only sure thing in the Senate is they will treat you that way too. You don’t have any power as a newbie to change anything- you aren’t put in areas where you can influence anyone- even if you have “great ideas.”

            You can protest all you want or “buck’ the system and they will actually laugh at you for doing it- and I personally saw that happen. You can make changes, but you won’t do it for years.

            You have to build credibility – over time- and that comes from supporting other causes within the body, and winning re-election several times. Then, and only then, will you be able to get some things done you want to get done.

    2. Barry

      I read Wes Climer’s website. There Is really nothing there.

      Sounds like a guy who just wants to be a Senator.

      1. Barry

        BTW_ I just watched a video where Haley is standing by Sen Hayes as he presses for ethics reform stating the exact things she wants in the bill – that he’s been fighting for over the course of a number of years.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Every time I think Nikki has grown into her role as a LEADER, she turns around and shocks me with this insurgent, Tea Party garbage…

      1. Michael Bramson

        Well, maybe her idea of being a leader is to replace everyone else with followers. It’s much easier than trying to compromise or change people’s minds.

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    Anybody out there besides Doug want to weigh in (and thank you, Pat)?

    Because I’ve about had it. The only people who step forward these days are the ones who want to destroy, to make things worse. That’s what gives us Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders…

    It’s so f___ing simple: You don’t start to make things better by targeting the very BEST people out there. You want to make things better? Replace the idiots. Please. Go for it!

    But this is EXACTLY backwards from the way you’d go about making things better.

    Please, someone step forward and let me know I’m not Oliver Wendell Douglas, trapped in the madness of Hooterville…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I mean please, come on and disagree with me. Show me what I’m missing. Make me wiser. But don’t tell me black is white and down is up. I can’t handle any more of that….

    2. Bob Amundson

      There are two very different kinds of change: “Continuous” and “Discontinuous.” I’ll use some child development examples I hope will explain the difference. Continuous (or incremental) change refers to a kind of variation over time that is expected and understood. The gradual growth of a child into an adult is continuous change. Though such growth may involve times of confusion and upheaval, nothing about human growth is new or unexpected. This is the kind of our country is quite used to.

      Discontinuous change is different, not easily understood because there is no precedent for this kind of change. For instance, whereas the growth from childhood to adulthood is a form of continuous change, an example of discontinuous change would be if the child were to lose both parents and become an orphan. It’s unexpected, difficult to understand, and requires a respond with skills we don’t yet have.

      I believe the United States is in a time of discontinuous change. Doug (and SOME Trump supporters) sees this. They are no longer satisfied with the pace, and the results, of continuous change. Brad, you are very conservative in many ways, believing in the tradition of your Church, and our government. Discontinuous change can be uncomfortable.

      I think you are both right, Doug advocating for discontinuous change, and Brad, advocating that tradition be respected, understood during change. Balance, my friends, balance.

        1. Mark Stewart

          This is the Achilles heel of democracy; average people can’t be expected to be much more than bamboozled by politicians. Generally speaking.

          Instead of having a system where one senator can torpedo the legislative process, we should require the senate to “defrock” one senator each session. 2/3 majority vote. Obviously, this wouldn’t work in the house; they would need some other way. Probably a tougher nut to crack there.

        2. Bob Amundson

          Thanks for reading this Brad. I agree with you. I’d like Doug to make some sort of comment about my post.

          1. Pat

            I appreciate the thoughtfulness of your post, Bob.
            Regarding continuous change, which, if I understand you correctly, I would prefer, one is gradually moving toward a preferred goal with the least amount of collateral damage. It allows for adjustment and reevaluating the goal along the way.
            Discontinuous change can be abrupt and create a severe upheaval. The goal is reached as quickly as possible may have unintended consequences.
            The Libertarian wing of the Republican Party is pushing hard for discontinuous change. The whole point is to disrupt government and create distrust. In addition, it is being pushed after the watershed moment of 9/11 which also created discontinuous change.

            1. Bob Amundson

              Thanks Pat. My point is that change needs to be agile (to borrow a term from IT development). Sometimes it should be incremental/continuous (incremental is used more frequently in governing), but at times, it is discontinuous. IMHO, it is clearly better to govern in such a way that change is incremental, but that does not seem realistic right now.

              To govern in such a way essentially forcing discontinuous change is certainly a problem, and one reason I am not a Libertarian. It seems having a balance between the needs of the individual and the needs of the community is essential. However, that concept exists on a shifting continuum, a moving target.

              In discontinuous change, one must be careful not to “throw the baby out with the bathwater.” Seems many haven’t heard, or perhaps understand, that idiomatic expression.

  3. susanincola

    Here you go, I’m weighing in. But I don’t feel like I have anything else to add to the conversation. I’m afraid I’m paying attention to other things right now. I generally don’t like what Haley does — she seems like a bull in the china shop to me. But then I don’t know what’s up well enough to really say. Everything I know is from this blog, the Free Times and a few other news sources.

  4. Brad Warthen Post author

    Attitudes such as Doug’s are what keep making things worse and worse.

    This “throw them all out and replace them with people who don’t know s__t from Shinola” movement is how we get Mick Mulvaney instead of John Spratt, and Trey Gowdy instead of Bob Inglis, and Lee Bright instead of whomever he replaced (I don’t even remember who it was, but it HAD to be someone better).

    It’s how we get Trump instead of someone with a clue like pretty much any of the other 16 who ran.

    This attitude is just driving the country deeper and deeper into a hole, and it’s depressing as all get-out…

    1. doug ross

      Sorry you can’t accept reality. As long as you think Hugh Leatherman is not part of the problem, you are being stubbornly obtuse.

      Your fawning over all the old guys who created this system is bizarre. How simple can I make it? They are the problem, not the solution. One nice guy who says all the nice things about ethics but can’t get anything done is just wasting time. If he hasn’t got the capacity to accomplish the task, let someone else try.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        In this case, on the ethics and reform issue, Hugh Leatherman IS part of the problem — compared to Wes Hayes.

        Because it doesn’t work the way you think it does: It’s not “all experienced people bad; all inexperienced people good.” And I don’t see how anyone on the planet could think otherwise.

        And if you think what I’m doing is “fawning over all the old guys who created this system,” you are deaf, dumb and blind.

        First, “all the old guys who created this system” are dead. Long ago dead. This is what people like Wes Hayes inherited and worked so hard to change.

        And you are highly unlikely to meet anyone who has worked harder to change what those old dead guys left us than me. Or Wes Hayes….

    2. doug ross

      It is hilarious that my attitude is what make things worse. I didn’t vote for any of these crooks. It’s actually your attitude that maintains the status quo.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        No, Doug. You have it exactly backwards. And it really doesn’t matter how often you say “I’m rubber and you’re glue,” etc.

        I understand this better than you do, and I’m telling you the truth.

        Yeah, I know nobody wants to hear that these days. They want to follow the clueless. They despise knowledge, experience and understanding. And I’m sick of it…

        1. Doug Ross

          You “understand it better” because you have a perspective based on your set of experiences and biases. Same as me. Except I don’t have to make all sorts of contradictory statements that are both illogical and untrue.

          “The system is broken. Don’t replace the people who run it.”
          “I am against partisanship. Nikki Haley shouldn’t try to replace any of the partisan Republicans who survive because of it.”

          Here’s a simple question – if politicians are such noble people, why do we spend SO much time trying to force them to be ethical? Good people don’t need ethics rules or a supposed “Dean” to lecture them on how to behave.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            It’s just stunning how stubborn you are about missing the point. These things are utterly irrelevant to anything I’ve said:

            “The system is broken. Don’t replace the people who run it.”
            “I am against partisanship. Nikki Haley shouldn’t try to replace any of the partisan Republicans who survive because of it.”

            By all mean, replace people who are a problem. But Wes Hayes is NOT part of the problem. He’s one of the best people in the State House. He has a way better history on that score than the person who presumes to replace him, Nikki Haley.

            Nikki’s done some good things. But Wes Hayes is almost always doing good things. He’s the kind of guy you look at and say, “Wow, we could really fix a lot of problems if we had more like HIM.”

            What is so hard to understand about that?

  5. Bryan Caskey

    Brad put up the Bat-Signal for me, so I’ll comment. (Sorry, I’ve been doing lawyer stuff.)

    I don’t know Wes Hayes. So I went and read his bio. Graduated from West Point in ’75, and was the President of the class his senior year in addition to being the battalion commander. After graduating from the Point, he went into the 82nd Airborne and gave them five years, then went to law school, was President of the SBA (the law school student body) and started his own practice after graduation.

    Stop right there.

    That’s a damn fine resume right there. And that’s only by age 31. A damn fine one. Since then, he’s served on a variety of charities and civic organizations, including the Boy Scouts, the Red Cross, and the United Way.

    I don’t know Wes Hayes any more than that, but I’d be comfortable if we had a whole Senate full of people like Wes Hayes.

    What exactly is Haley’s objection to Hayes?

    1. Pat

      Probably because he does his own thinking. You are right; he has a mighty fine resume.

  6. Brad Warthen Post author

    I’m done. I’m off to give platelets, which will take me the next few hours, during which I’ll be unable to type.

    Which is probably a good thing, Doug has me so ticked off…

  7. Lynn Teague

    Hi Brad, I am on a very short break from waiting for ethics reform conference committees to meet, but I’ll just say that getting ethics reform is way more complicated than some seem to think. Also, until you’ve been around a while you don’t even really know what to look for. A bunch of newbies all at once would, in all probability, reinvent the broken wheel,

    1. Mark Stewart

      Actually, it’s most likely they wouldn’t recognize a political wheel if it rolled over them.

      Skill is a combination of aptitude and experience. It’s hard won in any arena. Why people would expect this different in politics is beyond me.

    2. Barry

      Correct Lynn.

      I worked for a committee chairman at one time as a lowly page. Newbies in the legislature aren’t listened to- and have no power. It’s not about what they “will do” or their “ideas.”

      Believe it or not, in the legislature, you are surrounded by other elected people that may have a very different idea than you do and you have to build credibility and respect with other elected leaders before they will go along with you on anything.

      New Senators don’t have anything going for them and are wasting time for a long time.

      1. Lynn Teague

        Correct. And too often the new legislators waste not only their own time but that of the whole body and others dependent on the body.

        Newbie campaign rhetoric is a hoot compared to the reality. The candidate says that term limits are great – until there is enough realism to understand that making the system work requires years of learning and work, along with that hard-earned respect of colleagues. The candidate tells you he will reform gerrymandering. Apparently he doesn’t know that both parties are totally enmeshed in the current gerrymandered system and that he will not get a lot of help from caucus colleagues. The candidate has apparently not even watched streaming video of the state legislature in action to see what a mess a single habitual obstructionist can make. And of course the candidate will build the most excellent roads with no additional tax money because it will all come out of waste and abuse – until he has to sit on an oversight committee dealing with dead babies because an agency is underfunded. What fun to be a candidate!

      2. Brad Warthen Post author

        I’ve actually considered running for the Legislature, as an independent, of course — the UnParty ticket.

        The whole point of my candidacy would be to run against the parties. Possible slogan: Don’t let Columbia become Washington.

        And one of my planks would be reforming reapportionment — and as an independent, I’d be the one credible advocate for it in the General Assembly.

        But I would know how large the odds would be against it, with 169 members invested in the current state of affairs. And I’d have to be honest about that. I wouldn’t be able to get up on a podium and fire up a crowd with unrealistic promises the way Bernie Sanders does.

        The one thing I could frankly offer with confidence of keeping the promise is that I’d be one honest broker in the Legislature, one person completely open to working with whoever it took to enact commonsense legislation. That’s not the sort of thing that makes voters’ hearts go pitter-pat, but it is a thing of substance.

        And every session I’d introduce my reapportionment bill and make as much noise about it as I could…

  8. bud

    That’s what gives us Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders ..

    Wow. You are a one trick pony man. Frankly many of the problems we’re stuck with today in state government stem from the disastrous restructuring fiasco of the 90s. I’d rather not go down than path again.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      “Frankly many of the problems we’re stuck with today in state government stem from the disastrous restructuring fiasco of the 90s.”

      Which, of course, is completely untrue and cannot be supported.

      As I’ve explained before, Bud, you work for an agency that did NOT get reformed in the partial, timid restructuring of 1993. Nor did it get reformed a decade or so later when there was so much talk about it. Each time, there was a reshuffling of the deck chairs in that agency, but none of the things we said should be done were done.

      Why? Because lawmakers didn’t WANT to reform it, just like a lot of them don’t want to now…

  9. Dave Crockett

    FWIW, I do know Wes Hayes.

    He was in my graduating high school class (1971) in Rock Hill and was a pretty straight up guy, if not achingly so sometimes. He and I both won the “D.A.R. Good Citizenship Award” when we were in the 8th grade at Sullivan Junior High. Damned if I know how I was selected but, even then, Wes was already on his way toward becoming a leader. I have a lot of respect for who he was then and who he has become.

  10. Michelle Blassengale

    I know Wes Hayes, also. I worked for his family while I attended Winthrop University. He has always been an honorable, ethical man. That has not changed in the almost 30 years I’ve known him and his family. Even though I am no longer in Rock Hill, I would certainly vote for him if I were! Brad Warthen, I think you’re right on target with what you’ve written. I just hope the voters realize it.

  11. dark space

    You’d think someone so concerned with ethics would have been able to accomplish a little more since 1991…

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