IT’S NOT LIKE SOUTH CAROLINA NEEDED ANOTHER SCANDAL…. I’ve been reluctant to mention the sex scandal involving South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley (R), in large part because the reports have seemed a little thin. One person claimed there was an affair; the other person argued the affair never happened. It’s not much to go on.
The story, however, appears to be getting more interesting.
First, a quick primer for those just joining us. Will Folks, a former spokesman for Gov. Mark Sanford (R), announced this week that he had an “inappropriate physical relationship” with Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley. Folks has been a Haley supporter, so at least on the surface, he would not have an incentive to make her look bad. Haley, a state representative and the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, “categorically” denied the accusation, calling it a “disgraceful smear.”
Folks wrote on his site — which features the tag line, “Unfair. Imbalanced” — that the affair happened “several years ago,” before he was married. He offered no proof, but was apparently hoping to get out in front of local media outlets, which were looking into rumors about the affair. (A Columbia, S.C., paper later confirmed it’s been working on a story about the supposed affair.) Folks added that he still supports Haley’s campaign.
Folks subsequently said he has evidence — text messages, emails, and phone records — to bolster his claim, but no one knew if the evidence exists or not.
Today, Folks released what he says are text messages between himself, an AP reporter, another GOP political operative, and Nikki Haley’s campaign manager.
The texts, posted on Folks site, FITSNews, are dated about 10 days ago and consist of discussions about various reporters working on a story that involves Haley and Folks, and how to kill the story. In one May 15 text, Haley campaign manager Tim Pearson tells Folks “I’m telling you man, we keep this under wraps and nh is going to win.”
Just one of the texts, purportedly sent from GOP operative Wes Donehue to Folks on May 14, actually describes the topic of the story being discussed: “Now, I don’t give a fuck of you believe me or not. Your the one who screwed her. You’re the one who bragged about it. She’s the one who told BJ. Yall point fingers at your own damn selves and leave me the fuck out of it.”
According to Folks, “BJ” is B.J. Boling, a staffer for Haley opponent Rep. Gresham Barrett (R-SC).
It prompted David Kurtz to advise campaign consultants everywhere: “Do NOT have written communications with the alleged lover of your candidate.”
For the record, I’m still not entirely convinced the story’s legit. We don’t even know if this morning’s evidence is genuine. The story is, however, getting more interesting, not less, and if Haley is caught lying about the affair, her campaign is in very serious trouble.
The Republican primary is on June 8 — less than two weeks away.