Washington: An influential US Senator has
demanded a federal investigation into whether Indian-American
Nikki Halley, the Governor of South Carolina, exploited
taxpayer dollars for political purposes.
A Haley spokesman, however, refuted the charges and
termed them as a joke.
Senator Tom Harkin, in a letter to Daniel R Levinson, the
inspector general of the federal Department of Health and
Human Services, urged to "examine whether the state of South
Carolina met the requirements of federal law in spending its
exchange planning grant and whether that grant should be
returned to the federal government in full."
"Over the last several weeks, evidence has come to my
attention that raises serious concerns about whether the state
of South Carolina made improper use of taxpayer funds provided
under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA),"
Harkin said in his letter, which was released to the press
The Senator cited a report last week from a local US
daily that Haley told the South Carolina Health Planning
Committee in an email that the committee was to figure out a
way to opt out of a requirement in the new federal health care
law requiring states to set up health insurance exchanges.
The first Indian American women governor of a US State,
Haley established the committee with the help of a USD 1
million federal grant that was designed to help states figure
out how to implement the new health care reforms.
The state has so far spent about USD 109,000 of that
money, Harkin said.
"It was certainly not the intent for those taxpayer funds
to be distributed for a predetermined and meaningless outcome.
Spending taxpayer funds to construct an ideologically-
motivated faade not only violates Congress` intent, but also
the public`s trust in government," he said.
Terming Harkin`s letter "a joke", a spokesman of Haley
said the South Carolina Governor has long been on record
opposing Obama care and its exchanges, and she remains
committed to keeping them out of South Carolina.
"We`re glad that the committee independently concluded
that these exchanges should be rejected," Godfrey told The
"I suggest the liberal senator for Iowa is better off
investigating how pro-Obamacare governors are wasting tens of
millions of tax dollars studying how to implement a fatally
flawed and unconstitutional law that will hopefully soon be
struck down by the Supreme Court. South Carolina did the right
thing," Godfrey was quoted as saying.