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Haley Blasted for Calling Rape Crisis Centers 'Special Interests'

S.C. Democrats and victims' advocates outraged; apology demanded.

Editor's Note: Although the veto concerning sexual assault and rape crisis centers was referred to as "domestic violence" by Gov. Haley, the funding at issue was for the 15 sexual assault centers across the state. Domestic violence agencies are funded elsewhere.

S.C. Democrats and victims advocates are demanding an apology from Gov. Nikki Haley after the first-term governor posted a comment on her Facebook page referring to the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault as “special interests.”

Shortly after the House unanimously overrode Haley’s Veto 51, which cut funding to rape crisis centers throughout the state, she said: “veto of SC Coalition of Domestic Violence $453,680. Special interests made their way into the DHEC budget. This is not about the merit of their fights but the back door way of getting the money. It's wrong and another loophole for legislators and special interests to use. Defeated 111-0”

Democrats are demanding she apologize to rape victims for calling them “special interests." Haley’s office reportedly told Adam Beam of The State “that’s not what the governor said.”

Haley's spokesman Rob Godfrey said: "To argue that the governor isn't supportive of victims is, on its face, absurd and shows how far political opponents will go to criticize the governor regardless of the facts..."

Godfrey said that Haley "signed off on increased funding for both rape centers and domestic violence prosecution in the budget because it's the right thing to do."

He added: "Each of them needs to put their political drama and distractions away and start explaining to their constituents why they spent so much money."

Rep. Bakari Sellers said he will make known Haley's comments if she does not retract them.

"This is one of the most offensive things I've ever heard a Governor say. Rape victims are not distractions and they are definitely not a special interest group," he said. “To say otherwise is downright shameful. The Governor needs to take a long look in the mirror and decide whether or not she stands by these comments.”

Sellars added: “If she does, then I will make sure every single female voter in this state is aware of it. That’s a promise.”

Joyce Hart, executive director of Rape Crisis Center in Myrtle Beach, said Haley’s comment illustrate her lack of compassion.

“You know, every time she opens her mouth, she puts her foot in it,” she said. “She appears very non-compassionate. Unfortunately, maybe that’s the way it is.”

Rep. Boyd Brown, a Democratic lawmaker who is not seeking reelection from Fairfield County, said Haley’s comments were a “disgrace.” On his Twitter page, Brown wrote, “Governor @nikkihaley refers to rape crisis services as 'special interests.' This is the most idiotic thought I have ever heard.”

Rep. Leon Stavrinakis said: "Haley has become so extreme, she now considers rape victims acceptable political fodder."

Minority Leader Harry Ott said that Haley’s comments were "... entirely inappropriate and Gov. Haley should apologize immediately."

Haley’s Veto 51 . One center, People Against Rape of Charleston, will likely have to close its doors if the funding is not returned to the budget.

The S.C. Senate will vote on the vetoes Wednesday.

Women's groups were also .

Dale courtney July 19, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Sounds like one option. What about very young, babies and elderly-disabled? No lie. Rape happens to all ages, sadly.
DaveIsLib July 19, 2012 at 04:38 PM
"What you've just said ... is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul." from the movie "Billy Madison"
Mikaela July 19, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Hey, many people feel the same way about our governor, Paul LePage, here in Maine! Hoping this November we can render him a lame elephant so he can simply limp his way through 2013/14 on his WAY OUT THE DOOR! I truly feel for you guys in SC.
Mim July 19, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Godfrey added: "Each of them needs to put their political drama and distractions away and start explaining to their constituents why they spent so much money." Is Godfrey ignorant or what? I guess rape and domestic violence victims are a distraction to the Governor and her staff. The reason so much money must be spent is because there continues to be an unacceptable number of rapes and domestic violence incidents and hence victims needing a wide variety of services. Once the state takes a position of zero tolerance with regard to rape and domestic violence and backs that up with severe consequences, the need for victim services with decrease proportionately.
Robert Kelly July 20, 2012 at 01:11 AM
Just a note to mention that despite our governor's attitude, the local law enforcement people seem to be quite responsive. Many years ago I called Richland County Sheriff's office about a domestic beating down the street, and they were very responsive, even telling us we could press charges for threats made against us when my wife and I intervened. Recently Lexington County Sheriff's department showed up two houses down the street because of a domestic problem, and they showed up in force! Local deputies and law enforcement people do a great job, despite the fact that so many of the current governing class despise government employees and want to deny them a good wage and benefits. These posters who gripe about "government employees" do a horrible disservice to law enforcement, firefighters, teachers, and a whole host of other good people who make our government actually function regardless of who was elected.

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