OTR Interviews

S.C. Gov. Haley in Power Struggle with State Supreme Court, Lawmakers

Governor in battle over powers

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," June 9, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Did you hear about South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley? She was just shot down by the South Carolina State Supreme Court. The governor tried to get legislators back during the recess, but the court said not so fast. The governor tells us all about her feud with the state legislature.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, nice to see you again.

GOV. NIKKI HALEY, R-S.C.: Hey, Greta, how are you.

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm very well. So, I'm sorting through this latest round in South Carolina, and as I understand it, tell me if I'm wrong, you issued an executive order asking the legislature to come back into session and they went off to the state Supreme Court and said you didn't have the authority to ask them back in session. Is that essentially where we start?

HALEY: Yes, it is pretty sad. When a Republican senator sues a Republican governor for trying to push the conservative reforms, it's a strange set of consequences for sure. The key is South Carolina is in a place where we've done great things. Just this year along we passed tort reform. Every legislator has to show their vote on the record. We based Medicaid reform, voter ID. We are on the cusp of illegal immigration reform for the second time. So things are going great.

The one thing South Carolina has not done is restructure. We are still having an archaic style of government that I want to change. Every one of our agencies has their own e-mail servers. They have their own systems. Every one of our agencies has their own accounting background systems. We want to streamline that output it into a department of administration like most states and put that under the governor.

We've asked for that, and the legislature was aware we thought that was a priority. Every day we don't have a department of administration a day we are wasting dollars and not being effective for taxpayer. We told the legislature to finish.

After six months, which is one of the longest seconds in the country, they had not gotten to it. All we heard that day was how much they would have loved to have done it they just needed more time. We gave it to them. We called them back and said come in on Tuesday. At that point they sued me.

VAN SUSTEREN: As an outsider, I read the petition. I have a copy of the petition that was filed. It says, as I understand the law as the Republican state senator says, you can only summon them back in extraordinary circumstances. That's the only time the governor has the power.

Here's what I find absolutely, completely bizarre, crazy, nuts, lunatic, what was written in the brief. It says this is not unusual circumstances so you can't. Let me read you the quote, "The fact that legislative business is left uncompleted after the first year of a two year session is the quintessential definition of an ordinary occurrence and in no rational way may be construed as an extraordinary occasion."

It's bizarre. They are saying we never finish our business. And they are bragging, using that against you. I would be humiliated, embarrassed. If I said to FOX News, don't expect me to come to work because it's ordinary that someone doesn't come to work, so I'm not going to come to work. I found that shameful on the part of whoever wrote this brief.

HALEY: The chief justice submitted that it was a three-two vote. Welcome to the Haley administration. It is about results, no more talk that's called them back. The days of them saying we wish we would have done it but we ran out of time is over.

And the good thing about South Carolina is that the South Carolina house Republicans supported me. The South Carolina Senate Republicans supported me. The speaker of the house and the attorney general supported me. This wasn't just where everybody went against the governor this is where you are seeing good change in South Carolina. Where the governor is saying you have a job to do, you are going to do it.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's not whether it is a good idea whether someone should vote with you or you on this. That's not even the position I come from. The fact that the legislature is using them the fact that they are incompetence, that they haven't finished something, that's ordinary. I would be trying to hide that was ordinary. I wouldn't have my lawyers put that in a brief and use it as a reason not to do my work.

If they don't like what you are going to do they could vote against what you want. That would be fine. But they are bragging and using it against you. We never do our work what is your problem governor we'll do it later. They admit it and brag about it and use it you. I would be ashamed, embarrassed.

HALEY: It is bizarre. One of the things, that's what I told them if you for it vote up. If not, vote it down. But don't leave it on the take. It is not just about the power it is about the work. They have to work for the taxpayers of this state.

And it is extraordinary circumstances, because every state in the country is facing terrible budgets. Every day they don't restructure in South Carolina is costing our taxpayers time and money. That's something I wouldn't stand for. The reason I told them to come back. They should have come back and done their work and finished their job.

VAN SUSTEREN: These are extraordinary times people out of work. To say this is a quintessential definition of an ordinary occurrence, I didn't what is going on in South Carolina. But good luck. I hope if think want the job next time around they show up and do the work and don't say this is how we always do it. We don't do it at all.

HALEY: And that's the key, Greta. 2012 is a big year for elections and we no longer elect people because they look good in a picture and hold a baby well.

VAN SUSTEREN: We show up for breaking news even if it is on a weekend. Governor, thank you.

HALEY: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)