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Guest column: Haley will make D.C. transparent and accountable

September 05, 2023
| Aiken Standard by S.C. Rep Nathan Ballentine

Nikki Haley Will Make D.C. Transparent and Accountable

Does anyone trust Washington, D.C.? I don’t know. And I don’t know a South Carolinian who does.

Can you blame us? The nation’s capital is a den of self-serving, back-scratching, go-along-to-get-along insider politicians – on both sides of the aisle.

Republicans and Democrats alike spend their days in D.C. doing favors for special interests and throwing taxpayer money to their friends and allies. Look at the billions and counting worth of hidden earmarks they’ve approved this year.

Ending this abuse of government should be front and center in the 2024 race for the White House.

We need a president who can clean out this den of weasels.

Why not someone who cleaned up South Carolina?

I’m talking, of course, about Nikki Haley. There’s no one else in the race who has a better record on bringing transparency, accountability, and honesty to government. At a time when every American is frustrated with D.C., we should all remember what Nikki Haley did here.

Nikki and I entered the South Carolina state legislature at the same time – 2005. As soon as we got there, we were shocked at what we saw. Backroom deals. Influence peddling. You name it. It seemed everyone in the legislature was putting themselves first, even though we were elected to put South Carolina first.

Nikki and I resolved to end this abuse, once and for all. We promised to fight every day for transparency and accountability – even if it meant we didn’t make friends in the Statehouse.

Nikki led the charge. The catalyst of her fight was an obvious injustice that no one had ever dared confront. One day, early on, state lawmakers voted themselves a pay raise. But they used a voice vote, so no one would know how their representatives voted.

The dishonesty was obvious. After the vote, every lawmaker could travel back to their district and say, “I didn’t vote myself a pay raise.” But of course, they all did. They lined their pockets with taxpayer dollars. And no one in South Carolina could hold them accountable.

Except Nikki Haley, that is.

Nikki made recording every vote her biggest issue from the very start. She told our colleagues she was going to force them to tell the people how they voted. As she rightly said, it’s the most basic measure of transparency there is.

Nikki paid the price for doing the right thing. Republican leadership stripped of her committee assignments. She was iced out by the good ole boys. And when she took to the House floor to give a speech, no one would listen. The message from both sides of the aisle was obvious: Don’t you dare try to hold us accountable. Don’t you dare try to serve the people.

Nikki let that fuel her fire. She knew her fight was right. So she ran for governor. And of course, she won – both the election and the fight for transparency.

On her first day as Governor, Nikki signed the “On the Record Voting” bill into law. And she did it while blasting Pat Benatar’s “Hit me with your Best Shot” throughout the Statehouse.

I’ll never forget standing by her side as she signed that law. It was a great day for South Carolina – one of our best in decades. Because of Nikki Haley, South Carolinians can now search exactly how their representative voted on every bill. That includes pay raises, the state budget, and even committee meetings. Nikki made transparency and integrity the standard in the South Carolina Statehouse.

This fight for transparency created the Nikki Haley we know today. It propelled her from a state legislator, to governor, to US ambassador, and now a presidential candidate.

And make no mistake: When America elects her, she’s going to fight like hell to bring transparency and accountability to Washington, D.C. She’ll do the same thing in the White House that she did at the Statehouse. She’ll fight wasteful spending, pork-barrel projects, and the backroom deals that make D.C. such a cesspool.

You can bet Republicans and Democrats alike will fight her. But you can also bet Nikki will win.

Then South Carolinians – and every American – can start trusting D.C. again.

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