COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called the media too negative after The Associated Press raised questions about her claim that 10,000 jobs had been announced in the state since she took office in January.
Haley complained during a Cabinet meeting Tuesday the media doesn't want to report anything positive about her administration. She says regardless of the exact number of jobs, other governors are jealous.
An AP analysis of the 10,000 jobs cited by Haley revealed some of them were announced before she took office and others won't be filled for years. She also included hundreds of jobs created in a business deal that she opposed.
After repeated questioning by the AP, the state changed its jobs total several times before finally lowering it to about 9,000 positions, including 4,000 positions at Walmart stores over five years.
Haley responded Monday on her Facebook page: "To my friends in the press: try to be positive. Just once. You might like it and the people of our state will appreciate it."
She repeated the criticism on Tuesday.
"You know what I want so desperately? I want the people of this state to feel good about the things we're doing right, and it makes me laugh that the press is so determined to talk about the negatives," she said.
Bringing jobs to South Carolina will continue to be her top priority, particularly in rural areas, she told reporters after the meeting. She promised a big jobs announcement this week with Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt.
Hitt apologized to Haley at the meeting, saying the overstatement was his agency's fault.
"We've changed how we report our jobs data," he said. "There's plenty to be proud of right now in regards to economic development."
The first jobs list provided last week by the governor's office totaled 9,922 jobs. An updated list deleted some lines and added others, bringing the new tally to 10,210 – raising more questions about seemingly nonexistent announcements and some announced last year.
A third list totaled 9,400 jobs. Further questions saw the number shrink to about 9,000. Commerce Department spokeswoman Amy Love said forthcoming job announcements from companies had been listed prematurely.
The final list also included 750 jobs with Amazon.com. They represent the difference between the 1,250 jobs the company promised in December and the 2,000 jobs it pledged in May to get a 4 1/2-year online sales tax exemption from the Legislature. Haley opposed the exemption, but the deal eventually became law without her signature.
Haley acknowledged that some jobs were handled by the previous governor. She also acknowledged counting jobs that did not involve the state, including the Walmart jobs and 350 jobs at a rebuilt Tanger Outlet in Beaufort County. Haley attended the grand opening of the center where work started more than a year earlier. She said even if the state played no role in recruiting the jobs, she spoke with company officials and all jobs need to be celebrated.
"My governor colleagues are jealous of what we're doing. All I want is for South Carolina to realize how prideful we should be and how we're on the move, and we've got some improvements but we're going to continue making progress," she said.