‘No, no!’ said the Queen. ‘Sentence first – verdict afterwards.’

‘Stuff and nonsense!’ said Alice loudly. ‘The idea of having the sentence first!’

‘Hold your tongue!’ said the Queen, turning purple.

‘I won’t!’ said Alice.

-Alice In Wonderland

Most politicians in South Carolina have a history of getting sexy (or dreaming of getting sexy) with one person or another, but it took current Governor Nikki Haley operating on a whole other level to screw both the Federal government and the citizens of her own state with hair-tossing, hip-thrusting wanton abandon:

Gov. Nikki Haley dictated the conclusions of a committee charged with deciding how the state should implement federal health care reform before the group ever held its first meeting, public documents show.

Now, some of those involved in the dozens of meetings are calling the entire planning process a sham that wasted their time and part of a $1 million federal grant.

In a March 31 email thread that included Haley, her top advisers and the committee member who eventually wrote the report, Haley wrote, “The whole point of this commission should be to figure out how to opt out and how to avoid a federal takeover, NOT create a state exchange,” which is eventually what happened.

A central part of the federal health care overhaul, an exchange is a marketplace where various insurance plans eventually will be sold.

[...]

Copied on Haley’s March email thread was S.C. Health and Human Services Director Tony Keck, an influential member of the Health Planning Committee established by executive order.

Earlier in the thread, Keck had suggested pitching an op-ed piece for publication. The piece would highlight the health insurance exchange’s “roots in conservative principles,” including the idea that “exchanges are viewed by Democrats and Republicans as an important component in improving health care outcomes and lowering costs.”

Haley’s staff members immediately shut down the idea.

“I don’t want the Administration to embrace the idea of an exchange as conservative,” wrote Tim Pearson, Haley’s chief of staff. “It’s a very tough slog to try and change the perception on that.”

‘Losing our message’

Pearson referenced a newspaper report detailing legislation that would have created a framework for a state exchange and prevented insurance carriers from serving on its board. The bill was sponsored by S.C. Reps. Harold Mitchell Jr. and Gilda Cobb-Hunter, Democrats from Spartanburg and Orangeburg, respectively.

“We can’t be on the side of Reps. Mitchell and Cobb-Hunter vs. Campaign for Liberty and Tea Party,” Pearson wrote.

Referencing the federal lawsuit aiming to overturn the mandate requiring everyone to have health coverage, he continued; “The message has to be this … If we don’t at least explore an exchange, we are guaranteeing that — if the lawsuit fails — the Federal exchange, developed entirely by the Obama administration will exist in South Carolina.”

In response to the story in question, Haley wrote, “Ok we are losing our message here.”

In another email minutes later, she continued, “Also lets be clear, if mitchells bill comes to my desk I will veto it. Say that.”

The group of top aides agreed in the thread that the op-ed should not carry the byline of anyone in the Haley administration.

“I am confident I could get a business group or legislator to submit op-ed,” wrote Trey Walker, formerly Haley’s deputy chief of staff.

To be clear, insurance exchanges are centralized marketplaces at the state level where private insurers, if they meet minimum standards, can compete (free market!) with each other to offer insurance to the uninsured or small businesses, so… you,know, soshulism

And basically what Haley did was stack the deck by creating a sham “nonpartisan South Carolina Health Planning Committee” to look into exchanges, which then wasted state and federal dollars putting on a little insurance kabuki dinner theater, all the while Haley’s people were working behind the scenes to make sure that the committee came to the conclusion that she and her insurance industry overlords wanted.

Oddly enough, S.C. Health and Human Services Director Tony Keck, who previously:

“….suggested pitching an op-ed piece for publication. The piece would highlight the health insurance exchange’s “roots in conservative principles,” including the idea that “exchanges are viewed by Democrats and Republicans as an important component in improving health care outcomes and lowering costs.”

…somehow had a come to Jesus change of heart somewhere along the line because here is what he had to say when the fake findings were released:

The Department of Health & Human Services’ director Tony Keck, who was one of the members of the committee, said that creating a state health insurance exchange would be like trying to fly a plane while it is still being built.

Jeff Stensland, a spokesperson for the Department of Health & Human Services, said, Keck felt, “given the timelines and the uncertainty about the rules, it’s not a good idea to proceed with an exchange.”

Tony Keck…

Nikki Haley’s bitch…