Haley keeps staff salaries a secret

COLUMBIA --- South Carolina Gov.-elect Nikki Haley isn't yet saying how much her staff will earn in salaries when she takes office in three weeks, but she has released some information about what her aides are being paid by the taxpayers during her 10-week transition.


Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey said Thursday the salaries haven't been finalized.

"While those salaries have been negotiated, they have not been finalized and processed with personnel," Godfrey said in an e-mail. "Once they are finalized, the paperwork completed and official, they will, of course, be immediately made available and disclosed publicly."

For now, Haley's lawyer, Swati Patel, has only approved release of broad salary ranges for transition staff members' salaries in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from The Associated Press. The salaries of transition staff, including Patel, come from taxpayer funds.

Patel, who was Gov. Mark Sanford's chief lawyer, said state Freedom of Information laws do not require detailed salary information for temporary workers.

The state's open records law might leave a gray area on that, said Bill Rogers, the executive director of the South Carolina Press Association. But he notes Haley has promised transparency and should be expected to provide details.

"I think in the spirit of the law, these salaries should be open. It's public dollars here," Rogers said.

A month into her transition, Haley's paid staff had grown to seven people. They were being paid up $70,000 altogether for 10 weeks as she prepares to take office and Sanford leaves after completing his second and final term.

The top salary goes to Tim Pearson, who is chief of staff for Haley's transition and will be Haley's top lieutenant when she takes office. Haley's transition is paying him up to $18,000 for the 10-week transition.

Haley's campaign paid Pearson at least $46,195 between January and November as campaign manager, according to Haley's campaign finance records. Pearson, who engineered a low-dollar, come-from-behind campaign, had previously been a communications adviser for Sanford, wrote speeches for former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and was a member of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's 2008 presidential campaign staff.

The transition is paying Godfrey up to $10,000 for 10 weeks as he continues in his spokesman role, a job he'll have after the inauguration.


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