Records, Haley at odds

Hospital job exit wasn't so smooth

COLUMBIA --- When South Carolina gubernatorial nominee Nikki Haley left her $110,000-a-year job as a hospital fundraiser in April, the explanation was that she wanted to work full time on her run for governor.

 

Records obtained by The Associated Press show the Republican nominee's departure was anything but smooth, though.

E-mails between Haley and her bosses show she did not want to leave or take a hiatus, as offered.

After a negotiation between attorneys, Haley, of Lexington, left with $35,000 severance and a promise from administrators they would say nothing to embarrass her or question her integrity.

Her 11/2-year job with Lexington Medical Center, which she held while a state legislator, has come under fire from her opponent, Democratic Sen. Vincent Sheheen, and from some GOP activists, who question why she got the job, its salary and the donations the foundation received during her tenure.

Her campaign spokesman defended her work.

"A big part of Nikki's job was to get as many different people and organizations involved in the foundation as possible," Rob Godfrey said Friday. "She did that, and she did it very well, by continuing existing foundation relationships and building new ones. Some of those involved groups and companies that have lobbyists, but, as the Ethics Commission makes quite clear, Nikki working with them to grow a nonprofit, community-focused organization is entirely proper."

To back that up, the campaign forwarded an Oct. 1 e-mail to its attorney from the commission, saying that nothing in state law prohibits a public official from asking a lobbyist to give to a charity.

Under the April 23 agreement to part ways, Haley received nearly three months worth of salary, $27,200, plus $8,000 for unused vacation pay.

Days later, her campaign and hospital spokespeople said, she left voluntarily, after a successful February fundraising event.

Republicans raise Sheheen questions

COLUMBIA --- South Carolina Republicans on Friday questioned a 1991 reckless driving ticket for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Vincent Sheheen that ultimately was dropped.

Republican Party Executive Director Joel Sawyer said Sheheen was represented in the case by his uncle and then-House Speaker Bob Sheheen. Sawyer also claimed that the case was handled by Dick Harpootlian, who years later became the Democratic Party's chairman. Harpootlian denied the claim, and Sheheen's campaign called any accusation of favoritism specious.

"There are some questions raised by the records in this case that Sen. Sheheen needs to answer because at first it looks like the good old boy Democrats swinging into action," Sawyer said.

Sheheen spokesman Trav Robertson said there was nothing serious or sinister about the ticket and no influence was wielded with it.

"He was tailgating another car on his way home from Clemson," Robertson said. At the time, Sheheen was attending college there.

-- Associated Press

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