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Aide: Treasurer is not relevant in budget talks

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley's chief of staff said in a letter Friday that the state's treasurer isn't a relevant player in budget discussions with legislators.

The letter to the chief of staff for Treasurer Curtis Loftis, which was obtained by The Associated Press, was a brusque exchange over a meeting that excluded Loftis this week.

On Tuesday, Haley met with chairmen of the House and Senate budget-writing committees. They're three of the five members of the state's financial oversight board - a panel Loftis also sits on.

By law, the board's meetings require public notice, an agenda and minutes. After reporters asked Loftis about whether the meeting was proper, the treasurer's chief of staff asked Haley's office for details on the meeting. Both Loftis and Haley are Republicans.

"In order to clear up any misunderstandings in the press, I would like to have any documents related to that meeting including, but not limited to, the minutes and agenda," Loftis' Chief of Staff Bill Leidinger wrote in a letter Thursday.

Haley's office said the meeting was an effort to deal with issues budget writers were handling and weren't related to the financial oversight board's work.

In the letter Friday, Haley chief of staff Tim Pearson told Leidinger the meeting had nothing to do with the board's business - or the treasurer.

"Additionally, I'd like to preemptively let you know that this is one of many meetings the governor will have that involve the budget and other issues before the Legislature, and, being that he is not a relevant player in those issues, Treasurer Loftis will not be invited to attend those meetings," Pearson wrote.

Pearson said Haley doesn't intrude into the treasurer's duties, "and I'd humbly suggest that Treasurer Loftis would do right by the people of this state if he adopted a similar policy."

Pearson wrapped up the letter telling Leidinger to bring questions about meetings to him or the governor "as opposed to first running to the media."

In a prepared statement Friday, Loftis noted the state has large financial problems and he will continue to try to find solutions for them.

"I thank the governor's office for their response to my request for material associated with a meeting held by Governor Haley and two members of the Budget and Control Board," Loftis said.