Politics & Government

S.C. hospital created fundraising job for Nikki Haley

In 2006, Nikki Haley's finances were a mess.

The Republican gubernatorial candidate reported a family income of $40,269 on her 2006 tax returns, including her husband's money-losing business. Half that income went to pay interest on the family's $289,000 mortgage alone.

Then, the foundation arm of Lexington Medical Center, which State Rep. Haley had supported in its fight to open a heart surgery center, came to Haley's financial rescue.

By 2009, Haley was pulling down more than $100,000 at a fundraising job for the Lexington Medical Center Foundation.

That job was created expressly for Haley, the hospital says, despite a resume that included only accounting positions with a Charlotte firm and with her parents' clothing company. Campaign spokesman Rob Godfrey said Haley had fundraising experience, but did not provide specifics, and had served on the hospital board before she was elected to the Legislature or took the foundation job.

Haley's hiring was approved only by Lexington Medical's chief executive, not the foundation's board.

And she was paid 63 percent more than fundraisers at similarly sized charities, according to records obtained by The State and an industry group that studies nonprofit salaries.

Those records also show that in paying Haley, Lexington Medical Center Foundation spent seven times more in salaries and overhead than the much-larger foundation at Palmetto Health Richland. Of every $10 the Lexington foundation raised, more than $2 went to pay Haley's salary.

While Haley was at the foundation, it raised thousands of dollars from a pair of payday lending firms that Haley once oversaw on a House business subcommittee. In that legislative role, one fellow Republican once ripped Haley, saying she single-handedly had blocked efforts to regulate the payday lenders that later became large contributors to the Lexington Medical Center Foundation.

Haley has campaigned for governor, in part, by saying that voters have a right to know how their elected officials make their living.

To read the complete article, visit www.thestate.com.

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