Nikki Haley's Embarrassing Facebook Fight

The South Carolina governor exchanged barbs on the social web with a former political ally.

Republican candidate for South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, left, admires a bobble head doll of herself after autographing it for supporter Katrina Shealy, right, of Lexington, S.C., during a rally Monday, Nov. 1, 2010, in Gilbert, S.C.

Not so "buddy buddy" right now

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It seems South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is the gift that keeps on giving.

There’s a small storm brewing down in the Palmetto state, one that involves the sitting governor, her closest ally in the state Senate, and the leader of the state Department of Social Services. In short, a kid was placed by the department back into his abusive parents’ home and ended up dead. While these tragedies occur all too often, this one has now embroiled Haley’s Department of Social Services Director Lillian Koller.

Now, normally the governor would just ask for her resignation and put the tragedy behind her, especially in an election year, but Haley is standing firmly behind Koller. Not surprisingly, state Democrats have pounced on this tragedy. There’s just one small problem with this partisan attack: it’s turned bipartisan. Yep, that’s right. A close ally of Haley, GOP state Sen. Katrina Shealy, has demanded Koller’s resignation and the governor is none too pleased to say the least.

[ See a collection of political cartoons on the Republican Party.]

The fight between Haley and Shealy has now broken out into the public realm. Yesterday, Haley took a swipe at Shealy on her Facebook page: “I am so proud of Dir. Lillian Koller and her testimony in front of the Senate sub committee. She has answered all questions with full transparency. Amazing that senators are criticizing her for setting goals and accomplishing them. She has dramatically improved the agency since she took over in 2010 in spite of this political games by certain senators.”

Later, as The State newspaper noted, "When a comment on Haley's Facebook post accused Koller of being an atheist, Haley fired back: 'Dir. Koller is not an Atheist. I wish you and Sen. Shealy would quit spreading that lie. She is Jewish and the daughter of Holocaust survivors.'"

Well, that ticked Shealy off to no end. She took to Facebook and demanded an apology from her former bestie Haley:

"I asked the Governor’s staff about a rumor that was going around back months ago in confidence and they told me in a private meeting that director Koller was Jewish – I accepted that answer and that was the end of that conversation and that was the last time I talked about it other than when someone else ask me the question and I told them she was Jewish!” Shealy wrote. “Now I am being reprimanded on the Governor’s Facebook Page saying I am spreading rumors… Someone owes me an apology!!!


[ See a collection of political cartoons on the Democratic Party.]

Ok, so look, I love a good political fight as much as anyone, but this is getting out of hand. A sitting South Carolina governor taking to Facebook to slap her friends around? A sitting state Senator responding on Facebook, demanding an apology? Good grief Charlie Brown, this is the stuff political dreams are made of.

It’s not like Haley needs more bad news. Luckily there is a sliver of good news for her: the latest poll numbers are her highest ever. She’s sitting at a whopping 49.8 percent job approval rating. I suppose below 50 percent is a good score down in South Carolina. When I was a kid, 50 percent was an F but, hey, what do I know about poll numbers?

If Haley’s rising poll numbers are any indication, her scandals and ineptitude clearly aren’t sticking in the minds of voters. But when her closest ally turns on her, things may take a turn for the worst. If I were in Haley’s shoes, I’d be making nice with the good Sen. Shealy quickly. Otherwise, a good 'ole South Carolina fight, given to us by Facebook, may just end up costing her a return to the governor’s mansion.