Monday, August 5, 2013

Unethical Behavior in the State House

Photo of SC Statehouse via Wikimedia Commons (public domain)
by Jerry Keefe
       With South Carolina employment rate at 8%, should high powered officials be allowed to use their positions to get family members a job? It seems that South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has definitely ruffled some feathers. The Charleston Post and Courier and The State newspaper have both published articles regarding South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley using her position to land her fourteen-year-old daughter a job in the State House gift shop. While it is not uncommon for parents to “pull some strings” to get there family members positions, I agree with what Dick Harpootlian told The State newspaper, “You don’t use your position to get your daughter a job. It’s not about the daughter. It’s about the lack of judgment by the governor.” While reading these two articles, I found several questions about the conduct of Governor Nikki Haley.
        I do agree that kids should be allowed to work at fourteen. It teaches them responsibility, maturity, and work ethic at a young age. It is good for kids to know these skills. Working at a young age will develop children into hard workers later in life. With this being said, I don’t think it was a good idea for our governor to take a job away from someone else that may really have needed it, especially when South Carolina is at an all-time high with unemployment.
        Meredith McGehee said it perfectly when she told The State newspaper “even the minimum-wage jobs in this economy can be pretty tough to find.” Rob Godfrey, a spokesman for the governor told the Post and Courier “Haley’s daughter, Rena, usually works 20-25 hours per week and is paid $8.00 an hour.” This may not seem like a lot of hours, or a lot of pay but to someone that is trying to feed their family, it definitely helps. Regardless of how many hours the position called for, or what the pay was for this position, it should have been available for anyone to apply for.
       According to the Post and Courier newspaper, Haley’s agency spokesman Marion Edmons said “it is true, we did not advertise for the position, but that is not the first time. That is sort of the standard.” This statement in itself is mind blowing. Why would you not advertise a position when you are well aware of the unemployment rate and the need of so many citizens to work? I will tell you why: because Haley knew it would be a perfect position for her young daughter. No matter how you look at it, this choice shows favoritism and a lack of empathy towards the citizens of South Carolina. While Haley may not have intentionally tried to disregard the needs of the citizens of South Carolina, that is exactly what she did. She hired a fourteen-year- old child that really did not need to work in place of someone that was struggling and really could have used the extra income to support his or her family.
       Another issue that concerns me: the legal aspect of what Haley did. According to The State newspaper, South Carolina state law allows a 14-year-old to work up to 40 hours a week between 7am and 9pm when school is out.” According to the state law, Haley is not in violation; however, the State Ethic Commission says, “State law prohibits officials from causing the employment of a family member to a position they supervise or manage.” With this being said, it seems to me that Haley violated the State Ethics Commission. “Haley does not supervise the gift shop; instead she supervises the agency that operates it.” This definitely calls for some in depth researching from the State Ethics Commission.
       Last but not least, Nikki Haley tried to sweep this issue under the rug.  She got mad at the newspaper when they ran the original article, and ironically the article disappeared. She played it off as an invasion of her fourteen-year-old’s privacy. Haley wrote on her Facebook account “scrutiny of me comes with the territory of being governor. I expect it. But it’s a sad day for journalism in South Carolina when The State newspaper goes after my 14-year-old daughter. Public officials have a right to expect that their minor children are off limits from political opponents and even from biased media outlets like The State. It’s disgusting. Shame on them.” That is ridiculous. If you don’t want your daughter to be in the news, then don’t have her work under you at the State House gift shop. Don’t disregard the people of South Carolina and make unethical decisions. If you choose to bring your fourteen-year-old into a political environment, then they are fair game. I completely agree with Charles Bierbauer when he told the Post and Courier that the article that was written was “absolutely appropriate.”
       South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley did not have the citizens of South Carolina in her best interest when deciding who the best person for this position was. She did what I think any parent would do. She knew her daughter wanted to work, and she knew about a position that would suit her daughter. So she put two and two together and got her daughter a job. However, Nikki Haley cannot be held to the same standards of everyday people. She represents South Carolina and should make all of her decisions towards the best interest of the people in this state. Every position within the State House that comes available should be advertised. The Governor should have allowed whoever wanted to apply the ability to apply. After giving everyone a fair chance, if she felt that her daughter was the best candidate for the position then she could have hired her with no problems. In this situation that was not the case. Regular citizens did not have a chance. Haley knew about the position, thought of her daughter and immediately used her position to land the job for her daughter. Then our Governor tried to sweep the issue under the rug. That shows just how inconsiderate our Governor is.

For further reading: 

Smith, Glenn. "Disappearing article on Haley’s daughter creates intrigue." postandcourier [Charleston] 26 07 2012, early Web. 17 Jun. 2013.

Smith, Gina. "Haley’s daughter gets state job; questions of nepotism." State [Columbia] 26 07 2012, early


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