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Let's say, things weren't going well for you. You needed a new job, a situation many Americans have found themselves in recently.

You were a state legislator, making about $10,000 a year, also working in your family's clothing business, and  your husband's business wasn't doing well.

Your family's reported income in 2006, a tad over $40,000, but it took half of that to pay the interest-only loan on your $289,000 house.  (Already I'm thinking, you're not that good with numbers and maybe shouldn't be in charge of other people's money. Ooops -- I see now that numbers are your business. You have a degree in accounting and your previous jobs have been in that field. Now I really wonder how good you are at your job.)

But I digress. You need help. What do you do?

Luckily, you're on the hospital board. (It looks like from your campaign site that you once chaired a ball to raise funds for the hospital -- your only fund-raising experience? Not sure. Maybe.)

But you did have some influence as a legislator, and the hospital needed help. For more than six years, Lexington Medical Center had been trying to win approval for an open-heart surgery center. (Medical speciality facilities are regulated by the state in an effort to control costs. The hospital would have to show a need currently not being met for open-heart surgeries, so they don't have too many hospitals offering duplicate, expensive services, which drive up costs.)

In June 2006, a bill granting Lexington Medical Center an open-heart surgery unit made it to the Governor's desk (That would be Mark Hiking-The-Trail Sanford), who vetoed it. You and the rest of the Lexington County delegation voted to overturn the veto, but that effort failed. No open-heart surgery center for Lexington Medical Center.

And there you were, still in financial trouble.

In August 2008, along comes the CEO of Lexington Medical. He knows you, knows you need a job, and creates one for you! One that pays $110,000! Hires you without even a vote of the hospital board.

You're going to handle fund-raising for Lexington Medical Center. (You're required to spend at least 10 hours a week in the office! Great work, lots of time to take care of any other things you need to do.) Did I mention that you've only worked as an accountant before?

You are kind of expensive for a fund-raiser, though.

According to a salary survey conducted by the S.C. Association of Non-Profit Organizations, Haley’s $110,000 salary was 63 percent higher than the highest fundraiser salary – $67,500 – among organizations with budgets that are similar in size to the Lexington Medical Center Foundation. The average salary for the same position among those surveyed was $44,195.

When sorted by geography, Haley’s salary was 25 percent higher than the highest fundraiser at city-based organizations in the state. The average salary for nonprofits of similar geography was $45,000.

The State newspaper

Hmm. Then there's this:

Those records also show that in paying Haley, Lexington Medical Center Foundation spent seven times more in salaries and overhead than the much-larger foundation at Palmetto Health Richland. Of every $10 the Lexington foundation raised, more than $2 went to pay Haley’s salary.

The State newspaper

Eight months into the job, you decided to run for Governor of South Carolina. And... well, and this doesn't look that good, either:

Haley has campaigned for governor, in part, by saying that voters have a right to know how their elected officials make their living.

Too often, she has said, S.C. politicians have used their public political offices to line their private bank accounts.

The State newspaper

So, you're working your job as a legislator, running for governor and still holding down your $110,000-a-year fund-raising job. Must have been a tough schedule.

And I guess your boss noticed you weren't that into your job:

"Despite my constant efforts to have Nikki come in over the past three days, she has failed to come in to meet with me," he wrote (in March 2010), adding she knew what it was about. "To me, this exemplifies that (sic) fact that a leave of absence is warranted."

They met March 15, according to a March 30 e-mail, and James accused Haley of not working during the previous two weeks. He wrote she was being put on annual leave until the issue is resolved, unless she wanted to return to work according to her written duties - which included spending at least 10 hours weekly in the office and attending various meetings.

"I do not choose to take annual leave, nor do I consent to 'being placed on annual leave,'" she responded. She denied ever stopping work, accusing James of changing staff meeting days. She referred the issue to attorneys.

Associated Press

Oops. But you somehow manage to come out okay in the end.

After a negotiation between attorneys, she left with $35,000 severance and a promise from hospital administrators they would say nothing to embarrass her or question her integrity.

Associated Press

Your boss at Lexington Medical hasn't replaced you. They rearranged and reassigned your duties to other employees.

And just a few months ago, Lexington Medical finally won state approval for that open-heart surgery center it had wanted for so many years. (It wasn't something you had to vote on.) They submitted an application to the state in conjunction with one of their rival hospitals. The other hospital gave up a surgery unit, and Lexington Medical got one.

So it worked out okay for everybody in the end, I guess. It just really doesn't look that good....

Oh, and you have strong ideas about work, about how people should work hard and we should be careful about spending state money.

Lots of unemployed people across the country and in South Carolina these days. The economy's tough. It's tough to find a job. Most of us don't have CEOs come to us and ask us to work for them for at least 10 hours a week for $110,000 a year, and if we don't have a job at all anymore, well... there's unemployment.

And you... you have an idea about that. There may well be drug users collecting unemployment in South Carolina! (Maybe that's why they're unemployed! They're on drugs!) You want to protect the state from that.

You want people to take a drug test before they're eligible to collect unemployement! What an idea!

(Never mind that most employers drug-test people before ever giving them a job, and you're not eligible to collect unemployment benefits if you're fired for using drugs.)

We really have to be careful that people aren't taking advantage of the state that way, right? People should work hard for their money.

You are Nikki Haley, and you're running as a Republican, backed by the Tea Party and Sarah Palin, for governor of South Carolina.

Your work experience is very different than most, I bet.

Best news: Most recent poll on the race, released in the past week shows:

Republican Nikki Haley -- 49%
           Democrat Vincent Sheheen -- 44 %!

Originally posted to on Sun Oct 10, 2010 at 03:40 PM PDT.

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