Kathleen Parker, who lives part of the time in Camden, and I probably don’t see eye-to-eye on everything, certainly not in the political arena. That’s OK; diversity of views is what makes the world go around for me.
Every now and then, however, I find myself nodding my head at her words in agreement.
Wednesday was one of those days. That’s when we published a column she recently wrote titled “Words vs. deeds” expressing her views on Gov. Nikki Haley’s reaction to Camden area resident and -- as Parker put it -- GOP activist -- John Rainey’s ethics violation complaint against her.
I most certainly was one of those whose jaw dropped when I read that Haley had called Rainey a “racist, sexist bigot.” Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I know John Rainey and can tell you for certain that he is none of those things. I do not know him. However, I know people who do know him, and no one has ever intimated to me that is a racist, sexist or a bigot.
What I do know of Mr. Rainey is what Parker -- who appears to know him well judging from her column -- is a “nationally recognized philanthropist and community bridge-builder.”
Back in February, we published, with permission, a Free Times of Columbia article about Rainey written by 2011 Journalist of the Year Corey Hutchins. As I told Hutchins upon learning of his award, he is one of the few Midlands reporters outside of the C-I whose work I read. He may work for an alternative weekly, but Hutchins is a no-frills reporter. I respect his work.
That’s why his article on Rainey was so interesting and -- I believe -- counters anything negative Haley could say about him.
There is no doubt, based on Hutchins’ article, that Rainey is out to get the governor. However, it’s out of a sense of civic duty, not mean-spiritedness.
“He is not fast and loose with facts. If he doesn’t know something, he’ll tell you. If he doesn’t want to discuss something, he’ll make it know quickly,” Hutchins wrote. “When it comes to the immediate subject ... he is clear about the motive of his most recent endeavor: proving that the people of South Carolina have elected a governor who lacks integrity.”
Rainey makes no bones about it: “I believe Governor Haley is the most corrupt person to occupy the Governor’s Mansion since reconstruction. Put it another way: I think she is corrupt to the core of her being.”
Nope, no mincing of words here. But while the words are harsh, I don’t think the tone is. Rainey was voicing what many of us -- Republicans included -- have been thinking since the 2010 election. His opinion is nothing new; what’s different is that he’s put his opinion into action.
Or at least he tried.
The C-I barely touched the story about the governor. We picked up Hutchins’ article because it was well written, interesting and negated the need to reinvent the wheel. Being a Kershaw County-centric publication, we didn’t cover the initial rumblings about the charges against Haley concerning her pre-gubernatorial activities.
In fact, the first time the S.C. House Ethics Committee voted 5-1 against holding any hearings, we were intrigued, but didn’t report on it.
That’s because we didn’t know that Kershaw County’s State Rep. Laurie Slade Funderburk was the lone Democrat on the committee. We didn’t learn that until someone else revealed to us she was on the committee and had cast the lone vote to undertake the inquest. It wasn’t until mid-May, after Rainey appealed her committee’s initial decision and fellow Democrat Rep. James Smith requested the committee’s reconsideration.
Staff reporter Michael Ulmer interviewed her in early June as the committee prepared to hear testimony, after she and fellow members unanimously agreed to hold the inquest.
Unfortunately, the inquest went nowhere as, in my opinion, the committee did not call enough of the people directly involved -- and Haley made the surprise decision to appear and testify before the committee and call Rainey names.
Haley claims Rainey made a “terrorist” remark to her during their single meeting back when he was vetting her for his support. He says that if he said it, it was meant in a “jocular, expansive fashion,” according to Parker.
Go back to Hutchins’ article, and Rainey couldn’t care less about the fact that her family is from India or the color of her skin or even that she’s a woman. Here’s what he told Hutchins:
“I’m addressing the issue of integrity of the governor -- or lack thereof.” Later: “The overarching question is, is Governor Haley a person of integrity?”
He said he could tell she was not after asking her if she was “purer than Caesar’s wife.” I won’t re-relate the tale, but Rainey told Hutchins that Haley “was nervous, her eyes telegraphed that to me and her body language. I was not impressed with her in general, and I felt like that she was nervous and she was evasive.”
These are all words. Rainey is also someone who has shown this state that he is not a “racist, sexist bigot.” As Parker pointed out, he marched in favor of moving the Confederate flag off the State House; he raised funds for the “Corridor of Shame” documentary; he helped erect a statue of a World War I doughboy.
Now, he’s funding life-size sculptures of Bernard Baruch and African-American baseball and Camden native Larry Doby to be placed at the Camden Archives and Museum next year.
Parker was spot-on when she said Rainey’s record speaks louder than words.
I commend her for writing what she did. It’s a testament both to the good man Rainey is, and how wrong the majority of voters in this state were not to elect Camden’s other local political hero: Vincent Sheheen.