Haley Staffers Refuse to Testify

Friday, 02 Dec 2011 03:03 PM

By Andra Varin

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South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s staffers are refusing to testify before a state Senate panel on a controversial port project, and they may end up facing subpoenas, The State newspaper reported Friday.

The panel is investigating whether the Republican governor and her staff unduly influenced the state Department of Health & Environmental Control’s decision to grant a permit that clears the way for the expansion of the Savannah port, just over the state line in Georgia.

Critics contend that the decision will hurt the South Carolina port of Charleston and also jeopardize a still-undeveloped port in Jasper, S.C.

Haley has denied putting any pressure on the environmental board. Her chief of staff, Tim Pearson, wrote to the Senate panel’s chairman, Republican state Sen. Harvey Peeler, that staffers would not testify but would be willing to meet one on one with lawmakers and provide them with material.

“This office did not have any involvement in DHEC’s permitting decision,” Pearson wrote, according to The State. “Additionally, with great respect for you and your colleagues on the Committee, we believe that our appearance would be unprecedented and inconsistent with our government’s basic separation-of-powers principles.”

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