South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley apparently broke the law when she flew a university flag over the Capitol to commemorate a baseball championship game recently.
The governor most likely breached the state’s Heritage Act, which needs a two-thirds vote by lawmakers in order to alter or eliminate historical items consisting of the flags that fly over the Capitol Dome.
“If she can do this with no consequences, I want to set up my plaques,” said Greenwood Mayor Welborn Adams, who is among the critics who state the law is overreaching. The law has obstructed Adams from changing existing plaques on a city World War I monument that list soldiers as “colored” or “white” with brand-new plaques that do not segregate them.
James Bessenger of The South Carolina Secessionist Party initially raised the issue. He said his organization is speaking to an attorney and considering whether to submit a protest with police over Haley’s choice to fly the Coastal Carolina flag for a day.
State law is clear about the flags. After specifying just the U.S. flag and the state flag can be flown, the law says “no other flag will be displayed in these locations or atop the dome or roofing system.” A later chapter of the exact same area of law requires as much as 30 days in jail or a $100 fine for using “the State House or grounds for any purpose not authorized by law.”
This isn’t the very first time a governor has actually raised a champion winning school’s flag this century. Gov. Mark Sanford in 2010 and Haley in 2011 raised a University of South Carolina flag after that school won national titles in baseball. That was prior to Haley called for the removal of the Confederate flag from Statehouse grounds after the killing of nine black individuals in a Charleston church by a shooter authorities stated was inspired by racial hatred.
Sticking to the law, Haley pressed lawmakers to obtain the required two-thirds vote to get rid of the Confederate flag entirely from the Capitol last July.
“All the sudden she now has the authority to override a two-thirds vote?” Bessenger stated.
After the 2015 vote to take down the flag, House Speaker Jay Lucas said agents would not use up any other issues related to the Heritage Act. He kept that vow all through the 2016 session, even as Haley herself asked that The Citadel be enabled to remove a Confederate flag from a chapel a move also backed by the school’s board.
Lucas’ spokesperson said he likely would not comment on the problem. Haley spokeswoman Chaney Adams addressed questions about the flag with a declaration explaining the guv was simply continuing a tradition started when Clemson University’s football group won the national championship in 1981.
A group in Greenwood is currently taking legal action against the Legislature over the Heritage Act, stating it unlawfully eliminates control from local governments. The mayor stated the danger of criminal charges is exactly what kept him from changing the bronze war memorial plaques after he gathered personal donations and having the brand-new ones cast.
“I didn’t feel like pressing it that hard,” Adams said.
The guv’s seemed to have good intentions with the flag-raising. She sent pictures of her watching the game Thursday on Twitter, then pictures of her and her husband as the Coastal Carolina flag was raised. A video on the front page of her state website Tuesday afternoon reveals the event with positive band music being played in the background.
“These were the underdogs,” Haley said in an interview outside the Statehouse about an hour after the team won the title. “They combated hard. They won. They made South Carolina proud.”