My AJC colleague Dan Chapman sends word that Georgia surmounted a huge environmental hurdle today when a South Carolina agency voted to let the deepening of the Savannah River move forward.
We’ll add a link when his article is up.
Last month, the staff of the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control denied a permit needed to dredge 32 miles of the Savannah River. Thursday, the staff reversed itself and said all environmental issues had been satisfactorily addressed. The DHEC board, appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley, then voted unanimously to approve the permit.
Last month, in a prelude to a meeting with Gov. Nathan Deal, Haley was already softening her tone. “Every port is different and every port has its challenges, ” Haley said to a South Carolina business group. “We have to say, ‘What do we need to do that is right for the region? What do we need to do so that all are successful?’ There’s ways to do that.”
Haley is taking hometown flak. One local blog has accused her of selling out her state in exchange for national exposure. Take it with a grain of salt. The blog’s author is the same fellow – Will Folks — who claimed to have had an affair with Haley, then a GOP candidate for governor.
Folks points the finger at former Georgia GOP chairman Alec Poitevint, now in charge of next year’s Republican National Convention in Tampa:
In February, Poitevint was named chairman of the 2012 convention’s “Committee on Arrangements” – a role that gives him the power to determine which aspiring GOP politicians receive these coveted speaking slots.
Why is this relevant to Haley’s recent flip-flop on port issues? In July of this year Poitevint – a major GOP donor – was reelected to his second term as … you guessed it … chairman of the Georgia Ports Authority.
After the South Carolina vote today, South Carolina state Sen. Larry Grooms, chairman of Transportation Committee, acknowledged hearing the talk.
“Anytime you see a state agency reverse itself on a major issue such as this, questions of political influence come into play. I’ve seen and heard rumors about the governor of South Carolina. I would hope those rumors are not true,” he said.
Chapman says he asked Poitevint several weeks ago whether there was any horse-trading to encourage Haley to shift her position. “She’s a nice lady,” Poitevint replied.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider