The State: Guest Columnist

Earlier this week, I found this column by The State Editorial Board member, Cindi Ross Scoppe. As someone who has been personally involved from the start with On-The-Record Voting, I decided to respond to Ms. Scoppe. I appreciate her willingness to share my response in today’s The State.

This was my first time writing an editorial. The edited copy that ran today is shared below.

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With less than a month to go before voters elect our next governor, I’m not surprised to see a rash of misinformed critiques against Rep. Nikki Haley.

The latest came from Cindi Scoppe’s Sunday column, “Why we don’t have more recorded votes.” For someone who spends a great deal of time in the House and Senate chambers, Ms. Scoppe should know better than the opinions she shared in this column.

For all those worried about four more years of “not getting along,” it’s this sort of commentary that fuels the flames of discontent. Should Rep. Haley win next month, I wouldn’t blame her for holding grudges against all who have tried to bring her and her family down. Fortunately, though, Rep. Haley is a better person than that, and our state will be better off as she continues to work toward reforming our state.

As someone who stood beside Rep. Haley for six years and as someone who was first to join her fight two years ago for on-the-record voting, I want to shed more light on why we don’t have more recorded votes. While the House did pass Rep. Haley’s bill in March, it should be noted that the passage came on a day when it was widely known she had another obligation outside the chamber and on the day before the House was leaving for furlough — immediately before the filing period to run for office was set to close. Surely, anyone can see this vote for what it was.

Ms. Scoppe offers cover for the status-quo Senate when she says “there’s good reason to believe the Senate would have passed something if Ms. Haley had not gone on the attack.” Surely, she does not believe that. The only reason the Senate even considered the bill and held a hearing was because of the thousands of concerned citizens who continued to push for reforms. The movement for on-the-record voting could not be silenced, and it was because of people (not politics), and a very few like-minded senators, that a hearing was even held.

Can there be improvements to the bill? Yes — but only if the Senate yields to the will of the people instead of the will of the few in power. Only if the Senate truly wishes to shed more light on how each official votes on the issues. The House already has tried, in error, to use the “everyone without absence will be recorded as voting on the prevailing side” approach. Anyone can see how loopholes could continue to shield lawmakers from accountability under that method. To Speaker Bobby Harrell’s credit, he yielded to Rep. Haley and the people of our state, and that misguided rule change was finally changed.

In December, we will be able to pre-file bills for the upcoming session. I have already shared with the Republican Caucus that I will pre-file Rep. Haley’s recorded-voting bill and ask for immediate consideration the first days we’re in session. I have every belief that my House colleagues (Republican and Democrat) will pass the bill immediately, rather than have it sit for two years again. This time, the people of our state can then truly see “Why we don’t have more recorded votes” based on the actions, or inactions, of the members of the Senate.

I look forward to working with Sen. Harvey Peeler, Sen. Tom Davis and others to pass this bill in a manner that does not make a mockery of the fight I have been personally involved in for the past two years.

Ask anyone in politics — ally or foe of Rep. Haley — why we don’t have more recorded votes, and they’ll certainly tell you it isn’t Rep. Haley’s fault. Were it not for the courage she showed on this issue, we never would have begun this conversation or this movement.