The Republican Speaker of the state House of Representatives released a blistering statement Friday afternoon accusing Gov. Nikki Haley of lying to the press about an ongoing probe of her alleged ethics violations while serving as a member of the House.
The House Ethics Committee is investigating whether Haley illegally lobbied for Lexington Medical Center and Wilbur Smith & Associates during her time as a state representative. After trying to whitewash the inquiry last week, the committee reopened the investigation in response to a request from Rep. James Smith (D-Richland).
At a press conference Friday morning, Haley tried to portray Speaker Bobby Harrell (a fellow Republican with no love lost for Haley) as being behind the investigation. Harrell says that’s just flat-out false:
The Governor is misleading the press and trying to distract the public from what is a very serious matter. These are major criminal violations of the law that Governor Haley has been accused of committing. Given the Governor’s claim that there is no validity to these charges, combined with the extreme measures and false accusations now being employed by Governor Haley – One can only wonder why? Why to this level? What does Governor Haley have to hide?
Members of the Ethics Committee also released a joint statement Friday afternoon confirming that Harrell did not influence them to reopen the investigation.
But while Gov. Haley claims all the allegations against her are “made-up nonsense,” her lawyers’ defense to the committee essentially said “everyone else does it too so it’s okay, and if you call me out on it I’ll throw you under the bus.” On top of that, there’s plenty of evidence already that Haley did lobby illegally:
The complaint claims Haley used her position in the House to lobby for LMC while the hospital was trying to obtain clearance from DHEC to build an open heart center. [Former Board of Economic Advisors chair John] Rainey’s complaint included an email he claims proves Haley lobbied. The email is from a LMC employee, asking Haley how the heart center meeting went. Haley responded: “It went fine. We have some work to do not only to switch votes but to hold the ones we have. We’re as close as we’re going to get and can’t afford to leave one stone unturned. We were all given assignments and are working on them. Fingers crossed!”
With numerous smoking guns indicating that Gov. Haley broke the law while in office, it’s no surprise that Harrell and other state leaders are ready to get this ethics investigation over with as soon as possible — and they’ll be damned if Haley takes them down with her.