From scnow (editorial):
Four hundred thirty bucks a night (each!) for hotel rooms.
Fifteen hundred in airfare.
A $25,000 party.
Rooftop dining on a balmy June night in old Paree.
Bill Gates’ most recent business trip?
The new Real Housewives of Europe reality show?
Those are all items from S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley’s trip to Paris earlier this summer, where she and her entourage, which included State Senator Hugh Leatherman of Florence, racked up $127,000 (and counting) in bills, some of which will be paid by the taxpayer, according to some dogged reporting by the Charleston Post & Courier.
This was no “junket,” in the most perverse sense of that term. The governor and company were in Paris for the famed Paris Air Show, an every-other-year event that brings aviation industry leaders and their potential customers together for a week of aircraft demonstrations and big deal schmoozing. South Carolina had good reason to be there. In fact, some real questions should be asked if state representatives hadn’t been on hand. The opening of Boeing’s 787 plant in Charleston, S.C. means that the state is suddenly a Mecca for the aircraft industry because Boeing is an international giant in that business.
[R]ecruiting business is an undeniably valuable and necessary function of government and government-like organizations. Triple the current size of state’s air show tab and you’re still not talking about much when it comes to economic development. Yeah, it was in Paris and they party — a reception for Boeing officials — did cost $25,000. But that is just the cost of doing this kind of business. And this kind of business is worth doing. Boeing is expected to create 3,800 new direct jobs and the consultant Miley & Associates estimates the state’s annual tax take at just more than $90 million per year.
So we understand all this. Prominent people, elected officials, trip to Paris, thousands spent … and millions or billions in return.
What we don’t understand is the fumbling and bumbling of Haley, Haley’s office, Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt and others trying to explain all this last week when the Post & Courier called. What? A newspaper (and by extension, the citizens of a state) are upset at lavish spending by state officials while on a trip to …. Paris!? We’re shocked. You’ve caught us off guard!
How can that be? The median household income in South Carolina is just more than $40,000 (according to the Census) and something like a third of the state’s citizens live in poverty or something that looks a whole lot like it. Forty thousand is a good year for those folks, but you can barely throw a good Paris party for that amount.
[T]he stonewalling of some officials, the governorin particular, made it worse. “No comment,” when the question is “what about that $127,000 trip to Paris?” sounds a lot like zee, how do you say … han-kee pan-kee in zee city of lights, oui?
Leatherman, and the North East Strategic Alliance’s Jeff McKay, had no problem explaining their trip. They went to France, worked hard, and yes, spent some serious cash. Was it worth it? Absolutely, said Leatherman. Of course, said McKay.
That’s the spirit. In the corporate recruiting business, you have to make the scene. You may even have to play the role of the big spender.
And, you have to fess up and be ready to take a hit or two when you land back home, safe and sound, wearing an “I (heart) Paris” t-shirt.
There’s nothing wrong with that. …
… Unless, of course, there really is something wrong with that.