Governor reimburses state for plane usage - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Governor reimburses state for plane usage

COLUMBIA, SC (AP) - South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has repaid about $10,000 for using state planes to attend news conferences and bill signings, calling it an unintended oversight.

Haley's spokesman, Rob Godfrey, says her office was unaware legislators put a clause in the budget last year that added the restrictions. She returned $9,590 on Friday to the agency that operates the state's two taxpayer-funded planes. The reimbursement covers flights taken across the state over seven days.

Rob Godfrey told Raycom reporter Jody Barr that, "The governor, like many state officials, uses the state plane only for official business related to her duties as governor. Unfortunately, it came to our attention that a proviso was slipped into the budget last year that added new restrictions to official use of the state plane."

Godfrey continues, "While this was entirely staff oversight, the governor has reimbursed the Aeronautics agency for the cost of six flights she took to attend Medal of Valor, reapportionment, and pro-life-related bill signings and press conferences on legislative proposals on tax relief and ethics reform. In none of those cases did the governor use the state plane for anything unrelated to her official state duties, and she never has."

Statewide officers and legislators can use the planes for free on a first-come, first-served basis, as long as the trips are official business.

However, they broke a rule added in April 2011 specifying that bill signings, press conferences and political functions don't count as official business.

Jody Barr obtained a list of those flights, which are detailed below:

Aug. 23, 2012, to Anderson to celebrate an Electrolux expansion, then to Spartanburg to ceremoniously sign two anti-abortion bills at a crisis pregnancy center. She paid back $250 to cover the leg from Anderson to Spartanburg.

Aug. 22, 2012: She and Attorney General Alan Wilson flew to Charleston, Myrtle Beach and Greenville to promote her plan for reforming state ethics laws. She paid back the full $2,500 cost.

Aug. 21, 2012, to Anderson to ceremoniously sign a law creating a state Medal of Valor to recognize fallen military service members. Attendees at the Anderson Armory included the mother who inspired the legislation. She reimbursed the full $1,125.

March 13, 2012, to Greenville, then Aiken, back to Columbia, then Charleston in her second day promoting her demand that legislators include in the state budget her proposal to cut corporate and personal income taxes. She flew back to Columbia mid-day for the swearing-in ceremony of Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell. She paid back the full $2,000.

March 12, 2012, to Myrtle Beach to launch her "tax relief tour" on the opening day of budget debate on the House floor. She paid back the full $1,375.

Aug. 1, 2011, to North Myrtle Beach to sign the bill redrawing U.S. House district boundaries and creating the new 7th District anchored in Horry County. The signing and rally were at Broadway at the Beach. She returned the full $1,320.

July 18, 2011, to Myrtle Beach to ceremoniously sign insurance law. She returned the full $1,020.

Spokesman Rob Godfrey notes the flights involved her official duties.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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