SC gov had her chef make birthday cakes for staff

By JIM DAVENPORT | November 28, 2011 | 3:35 PM EST

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina's top Democrat says Republican Gov. Nikki Haley is letting her staff eat cake in lean times — on the taxpayer's dime.

Emails show a Haley aide repeatedly asked the governor's executive chef to make cakes to recognize staffers' birthdays. It's a use of state resources that the state ethics chief says raises questions, although it is likely legal.

State Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian says the cakes are an extravagance in the midst of budget cuts.

Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey says not all requests for cake and other items were fulfilled. Godfrey says they were low-cost tokens of appreciation.

The cake-making details show up in some of the emails contained in nearly 2,000 pages that The Associated Press reviewed.