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 .