Nikki Haley mute on pricey Europe trip on South Carolina's dime (update: 'Little girl' debate)

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First reporting September 5; Updates at the bottom.

Questions are popping up over Haley's "job recruiting" trip to Europe and Germany in June.

The receipts are still being counted in the state's records but the total from the Commerce Department records alone is $127,000 and no one seems to have much to say in the way of results.

There's some chatter about two possible company recruits (though Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt says that's not so) but there are records of Haley's hotel bills that averaged $430 per night.

I'll point you to The Post and Courier's expose for the story (read it here).

What's understandably lacking in that first report is context and questions, so below are a few that I expect to be raised as the story continues:

1) Why is the governor that ran on transparency being so mum about discussing the trip and disclosing full agendas?

2) If South Carolina thought the expenses to put on a good corporate face were justifiable, why did the governor still stay in such expensive lodging?

3) Why is the governor so elusive? A simple public statement of, "While nothing concrete has emerged, we have several potential leads and contract renewals in the works, and those are worth far more than $125,000" would do much to dispel the debate.

This one already seems to be getting away from the governor and will likely be added to the long list of criticisms thus far and continue to dog her administration well into the next election.

Update September 6: As you'll be no doubt un-surprised to learn, S.C. Democrats have eagerly received the story.

And the S.C. Democratic Party Chairman, Dick Harpootlian, has already produced a YouTube-worthy video of the news. Guffaw at it below.

Oh, and so far no reaction from the Haley camp on The Post and Courier story.

Update September 7: Nikki Haley has responded to the Sunday article by way of a letter published in The Post and Courier. 

As you would guess, she disagrees with the paper's report.

Most notable she comments on the lack of results thus far, "It is rarely the case that you meet business leaders and agree to a deal right on the spot. These things take time, and announcements cannot be made prematurely; otherwise, the deals will be sunk."

As I pointed out in the first mention of this story, this is an obvious conclusion and one that would have much to quell the bite in the original report — so why did she wait to say it?

You can read all her comments over here.

Do note that the paper has closed comments on it, so feel free to chime in below.

So now with two debates running, the substance of the original query stands to get lost in the context that follows — and it certainly gives more credence to the women that banded together to stand against voting for Haley during the election.

Update September 11: The debate over the expenses from the trip has been largely sidetracked thanks to a demeaning remark by Gov. Nikki Haley about the reporter from the story, Renee Dudley.

If you missed it, ire fell upon Haley after she dismissed the reportby saying in a radio broadcast, "God bless that little girl at The Post and Courier. I mean her job is to try and create conflict. My job is to create jobs."

Well, The Post and Courier wrote one column to defend the reporting done, saying in part, "Criticize Gov. Haley for the size of her entourage (27), the cost of the hotel room ($430 a night) and the overall expense of the trip ($127,000, so far). And criticize her for being less than forthcoming about the trip. ... Haley didn't provide answers to emailed questions even after those written questions were sought by her staff."

But Haley is unmoved and recently said in a statement that, “The story painted a grossly inaccurate picture and was unprofessionally done, but my 'little girl' comment was inappropriate and I regret that. I’ll forgive her bad story, if she’ll forgive my poor choice of words."

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