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GOP Governors Playing Defense: Their Week Under Fire In Key States

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Republican governors were playing defense this week in key states. In South Carolina, Nikki Haley is standing on the side of extreme Tea Party ideology instead of the people of her state. In Pennsylvania, Tom Corbett took lavish gifts that raise serious questions about pay-to-play. In Ohio, John Kasich’s political slush fund, JobsOhio, is under investigation for its shady financial dealings. And in New Jersey, Chris Christie’s record of economic failure is coming into the spotlight. What unites them all? As voters focus on their failure to create jobs, their penchant for cronyism, and their commitment to ideology over bipartisan results, the less likely it becomes that these Republican governors will be re-elected.
Here’s a snapshot of this week’s coverage:
According to the non-partisan AARP, Governor Nikki Haley is out of touch with the people of South Carolina on Medicaid expansion, and is under pressure to put ideology aside and act in the best interest of her state:
VIDEO: WMBF Myrtle Beach: South Carolinians Support Medicaid Expansion, Disagree With Haley
VIDEO: WSOC Charlotte: AARP Survey Shows Haley Out Of Step With SC
VIDEO: WACH Columbia: Sen. Sheheen Pushes Expanded Medicaid
VIDEO: WCIV Charleston: Sen. Sheheen Urges Haley To Put Politics Aside For Good Of SC
The State: Survey finds majority in state support Medicaid expansion
More than half of older adults in the state disagree with Gov. Nikki Haley’s plan to turn down Medicaid expansion, according to a survey by the AARP. The survey found that 54 percent of the respondents support expanding Medicaid to cover low-income adults. A U.S. Supreme Court decision last summer allowed states to opt out of the Medicaid expansion provision of the federal Affordable Care Act. Haley has pledged not to accept the expansion, saying its an extension of a wasteful federal program.
Charleston Examiner: Charleston Chamber to Gov. Haley: accept Medicaid expansion
The Chamber of Commerce might be regarded as a conservative organization, traditionally supporting low corporate taxes and a reduction in environmental regulations. Charleston’s Chamber took a more progressive stance on healthcare, however, in a press release it issued yesterday. The Chamber’s Board of Directors decided unanimously to support Medicaid expansion included in the Affordable Care Act, it says.
The State: Sheheen endorses temporary expansion of Medicaid
South Carolina should give health insurance to more poor people — at least as long as the federal government is willing to pay for it, state Sen. Vincent Sheheen said Thursday.
Governor Tom Corbett took lavish gifts from lobbyists and business executives – including a yachting vacation, sports tickets, and private jets – drawing a formal ethics complaint:
VIDEO: WOLF Hazleton: Gov. Corbett “Taking Heavy Fire” Over Gifts
VIDEO: KDKA Pittsburgh: Corbett’s Lavish Gifts Draws Ethics Complaint
Philadelphia Daily News: Corbett, wife accepted thousands in gifts from biz execs, lobbyists 
A Daily News examination of state disclosure forms found that Corbett and his wife, Susan, accepted $11,343 in gifts from business executives, lobbyists or lobbying firms in 2010 – when the former attorney general mounted his successful campaign for governor – and in 2011, his first year in office.
Philadelphia Inquirer: Hanger says Gov. Corbett violated code of conduct with gifts 
Gov. Corbett violated his office’s code of conduct by accepting gifts from lobbyists and executives from regulated businesses and should repay the value of the largesse, John Hanger, a Democrat who is running for governor, said on Tuesday.
Associated Press: Pa. Democratic party files complaint over $11,000 in gifts accepted by Gov. Corbett, wife 
Gov. Tom Corbett and his wife, Susan, accepted gifts including seats at professional sporting events, tickets to a gala for the Philadelphia Orchestra and private jet travel over a two-year period, a newspaper reported Tuesday.
NPR: Formal Ethics Complaint Filed Over Free Gifts Taken by Corbett 
The Pennsylvania Democratic Party has filed a formal complaint with the state Ethics Commission over thousands of dollars of gifts Governor Corbett and his wife received, which include a free vacation, private jet travel, and entertainment.
In the most recent example of John Kasich protecting his cronies and the super-wealthy at the expense of taxpayers, his secret slush fund, JobsOhio, faces subpoenas from the Republican State Auditor over the organization’s financial records:
VIDEO: WSYX Columbus: Republican Auditor Subpoenas Kasich’s Slush Fund For Cronies
VIDEO: WCMH Columbus: Kasich’s JobsOhio Under Fire For Secret Use Of Taxpayer Money
Associated Press: Ohio auditor, governor face off over JobsOhio
Tensions grew Thursday over access to the private financial books of JobsOhio, a nonprofit entity created by Gov. John Kasich to lure jobs to Ohio.
Columbus Dispatch: JobsOhio quietly got $5.3 million in state grants
Gov. John Kasich responded to questions yesterday about taxpayer money quietly flowing to JobsOhio by saying the issue was “complicated.” “Any report that indicates they somehow have more money, you need to understand how this all works,” Kasich said yesterday, when asked whether he was aware of $5.3 million in state grants awarded to JobsOhio and its subsidiary in fiscal year 2012, according to a report released by his administration last Friday. That apparently was the first public disclosure of state aid going to JobsOhio beyond the $1 million the legislature appropriated in 2011 to cover startup costs.
Dayton Daily News: Republican auditor, Democrats call on Kasich to release JobsOhio info
Gov. John Kasich is under pressure from Republican Auditor Dave Yost and Democrats to open up JobsOhio’s books amid criticism that the private economic development agency Kasich set up lacks transparency and accountability to the public.
Columbus Dispatch: Neither Kasich, Yost backing down over JobsOhio audit 
Neither side budged yesterday in the fight between Gov. John Kasich and state Auditor Dave Yost over Yost’s power to examine the finances of JobsOhio, the governor’s privatized economic-development agency.
Columbus Dispatch: Kasich on JobsOhio’s financial records: ‘It’s complicated’
Gov. John Kasich characterized Auditor Dave Yost’s subpoenaing of JobsOhio’s financial records as a “little disagreement on how we should proceed.” “The simple fact of the matter is I favor all public money being able to be audited by our state auditor, plain and simple,” Kasich said today, following a short speech as part of grand-opening ceremonies for outdoor retailer Cabela’s near Polaris mall.
Even the Wall Street Journal editorial board’s Paul Gigot has taken notice that Chris Christie’s economic record is one of failure:
VIDEO: KYW Philadelphia: Unemployment Under Christie At Recession Levels
VIDEO: Paul Gigot: Christie’s Is “One Of The Worst Records In The Country”
VIDEO: O’Malley: Christie Has Taken NJ Back
MSNBC: Christie’s approval rating is high. What about other NJ numbers–like unemployment, the poverty rate, or foreclosures? 
With a record high approval among New Jersey’s voters, and YouTube and town hall moments that showcase his brash style of governing, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie looks unbeatable in his re-election bid. But Christie faces some competition–a longtime progressive state lawmaker, Barbara Buono, who has decided to take on the imposing challenge of trying to unseat the incumbent.
The Record: Christie backs off bold prediction for N.J. economic growth 
Governor Christie declared last year that the “New Jersey comeback has begun” when he rolled out his state budget for 2013, projecting greater economic growth than any other governor in the country. But contained in the fine print of Christie’s latest budget documents is an admission that the administration’s bold prediction of a 7.2 percent rise in revenue for the current fiscal year will not come true. One consequence of that shortfall will be a delay in property tax relief for senior citizens, the disabled and residents earning up to $75,000.
NJ Spotlight: Foreclosure Numbers Paint Bleak Picture of Garden State 
The numbers tell a grim story for the Garden Sate. The tide of foreclosure is slowly receding across many of the nation’s housing markets, but it is still rising across southern New Jersey. While other regions may have higher raw numbers, housing distress was becoming pervasive across the state’s southern counties even before superstorm Sandy, according to participants in New Jersey Future’s 2013 redevelopment forum.
Newark Star-Ledger: Democratic governors take on Christie’s economic record, tout Buono candidacy 
Current and former chairmen of the Democratic Governors Association have their sights set on the New Jersey governor’s race this year and what they see as Gov. Chris Christie’s weak economic record.