Sex and scandal back in SC politics

Tuesday, May 25, 2010 11:15 AM
Last updated 7:40 PM
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GREENVILLE, S.C. - Sex and scandal are again in South Carolina's political air.

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Sanford, Folks, Haley  AP Photos
AP Photos
Sanford, Folks, Haley

A year ago, it was Gov. Mark Sanford's tearful confession of secretly skipping out of the country to rendezvous with an Argentine woman he called his soul mate. On Monday, it was a political blogger's claim of an affair with a rising star in the governor's race: state Rep. Nikki Haley. Three years ago, it was the state treasurer whose affinity for cocaine had him facing federal charges and prison time.

At a debate Monday night, Haley offered what she expected would be the final volleys in a he-said, she-said match that started 13 hours earlier when Will Folks wrote on his blog: "Several years ago, prior to my marriage, I had an inappropriate physical relationship with Nikki."

"It is absolutely not true," Haley emphatically told the crowd. She'd said the same much of the day in a statement after Folks' allegation spread around the political sphere: "I have been 100 percent faithful to my husband throughout our 13 years of marriage. This claim against me is categorically and totally false."

And as reporters pressed her on the evidence that Folks claimed existed or why he would make a false claim, Haley appeared to shut further questions down.

"I'm telling you there is nothing there," she said. "I'm not going to let this distraction to get to me. It's not worth my time."

She was on at least three talk shows with big audiences in Columbia, Greenville and Charleston denying Folks' claim. Sympathetic callers filled lines in the hours that followed with praise for how she handled the matter.

Folks is a fixture in the state's rough-and-tumble politics and has worked for Sanford and Haley, an accountant and three-term legislator in a tight race for the GOP nomination with Congressman Gresham Barrett, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer and state Attorney General Henry McMaster.

Folks was Sanford's spokesman in his 2002 campaign and when he took office. Folks left in 2005 and not long after pleaded guilty to a criminal domestic charge involving his fiance.

He is a political consultant and runs FITSNews.com, a conservative site that features occasionally insightful commentary, thinly sourced stories of state political intrigue and photos of women in bikinis. Haley hired him in 2007 to write speeches and news releases. Folks said that's when the vaguely described "physical relationship" with Haley took place. He offered no proof and refused to give details.

"I'm not going to paint pictures," he said.

It was only a year ago that Sanford famously vanished from the state for five days, claiming to be on the Appalachian Trail and reappearing from a trip to Argentina to admit to an extramarital affair. It destroyed his marriage, which ended in divorce, and likely his political future, which had at one time seemed to include presidential aspirations.

Sanford is term-limited and leaves office in January; in years past he had backed Haley's political aspirations, and his ex-wife campaigned with her earlier this month.

Political scientist Neal Thigpen said he thinks most political activists won't believe Folks, but some tea party supporters could be swayed to support another candidate.

"It seems to me the whole thing is designed to stop Rep. Haley's momentum," said Thigpen, a Francis Marion University professor. "If it's Nikki's word against Will Folks', I know who I'd believe. ... But something like this can do her great damage."

Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate, on Facebook denounced Folks' claim, and said she had warned Haley that she and her family would be targeted. Palin, who has publicly supported Haley, said she spoke with the candidate and told her to hang in there.

"That, unfortunately, is the nature of the beast in politics today - especially for conservative 'underdog' candidates who surge in the polls and threaten to shake things up so government can be put back on the side of the people," Palin wrote.

Comments (20) Add comment
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sjgraci
2
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sjgraci 05/25/10 - 10:46 am
0
0
Buh bye Nikki. And you looked

Buh bye Nikki. And you looked so "Palinesque hot" up there on the tea party stage at the Augusta Common.

dwb619
103998
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dwb619 05/25/10 - 10:49 am
1
0
According to FITS News, Folks

According to FITS News, Folks claims to have all the cell phone, text messages, voice mail, and e-mail from Haley for the last several years. He is more or less daring her to sue him. And I thought she was the better of the bunch of FAMILY VALUES PARTY.

baronvonreich
1
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baronvonreich 05/25/10 - 11:35 am
0
0
Where is the proof?

Where is the proof?

Indigo
4
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Indigo 05/25/10 - 11:41 am
0
0
Is anybody else asking the

Is anybody else asking the question.....WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH EVERYONE?

dani
13
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dani 05/25/10 - 11:49 am
0
0
Why do I not believe this

Why do I not believe this story? I think the guy is exaggerating his relationship with Haley. If Folks has proof, he had best bring it forward. Until he does...he should be ignored.

zcock
60
Points
zcock 05/25/10 - 11:51 am
0
1
Can you not smell the stink

Can you not smell the stink coming from "Folks"... The good ole boys in SC are throwing everything but the kitchen sink at this girl. Desperate measures usually come from desperate people.

OnlyinAgs
1
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OnlyinAgs 05/25/10 - 12:25 pm
0
0
Yea you would think he would

Yea you would think he would have done this weeks ago why now?

Riverman1
93458
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Riverman1 05/25/10 - 12:27 pm
0
0
Folks is a low class

Folks is a low class attention seeker.

zcock
60
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zcock 05/25/10 - 12:50 pm
0
1
dwb619, Fitsnews.com is

dwb619, Fitsnews.com is nothing but a blog created by Folks... he gets paid to start rumors. More than likely he will never do anything more than what he has so far. If the story is true I will change my opinion on this. However, it will not change the fact that he is a political hack who beat his girl friend.

baronvonreich
1
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baronvonreich 05/25/10 - 12:53 pm
0
0
OnlyinAgsTuesday, May 25 1:25

OnlyinAgsTuesday, May 25 1:25 PMnew Report Yea you would think he would have done this weeks ago why now?
---------------------------
Because the latest Rasmussen poll released last Thursday showed Haley with the lead in the primary for the first time at 30% to 19% over McMaster and Barrett. The timing is awfully suspicious and has yet to be substantiated. If Folks or the McMaster/Barrett factions are going to bring it up then back it up.

baronvonreich
1
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baronvonreich 05/25/10 - 12:55 pm
0
1
Look at Haley. Look at Folks.

Look at Haley. Look at Folks. Pretty sure she could have done better if her itch needed scratching.

OnlyinAgs
1
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OnlyinAgs 05/25/10 - 01:00 pm
1
0
baron please that might be

baron please that might be very sexy and appealing to her. What you like she may not and vice versa. He could (if they were an item) have been the sexiest thing to her at that time. It's like when you see a TALL man and a itty bitty woman, go figure.

Nat the Cat
1
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Nat the Cat 05/25/10 - 01:22 pm
1
0
Baron is right--Where is the

Baron is right--Where is the proof? Phone calls, e-mails, etc. do not necessarily prove a "physical relationship." However, if there were nothing there, I would be screaming "Defamation," at the top of my lungs, and threatening to file a Lawsuilt.

dwb619
103998
Points
dwb619 05/25/10 - 01:29 pm
1
0
Thank you for telling me what

Thank you for telling me what Fits is.
Now ,how about a write in candidate?
RITA JENRETTE!

johnston.cliff
2
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johnston.cliff 05/25/10 - 03:07 pm
0
1
This is the type of dirty

This is the type of dirty tricks the left is known for. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. The AP sure is promoting the rumors, as usual.

Riverman1
93458
Points
Riverman1 05/25/10 - 03:09 pm
0
0
It's tough for political

It's tough for political candidates to file lawsuits over something like this. Look what the NY Tiimes did to John McCain with their charges? But even if there was some type of relationship (and I don't think there was), why does Folks have to suddenly come out and make it public? Classless.

themaninthemirror
0
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themaninthemirror 05/25/10 - 04:56 pm
0
0
Every one is missing the

Every one is missing the point. He said he had a "physical relationship" with her.Maybe he tripped and fell onto her and she was real nice about the whole thing and he got the wrong idea. Just because someone rubs up against you in the elevator, doesn't mean you are having sex with them.

c.james
0
Points
c.james 05/25/10 - 05:41 pm
0
0
As with Sanford there was

As with Sanford there was conclusive proof of an affair. Where is the proof with Haley? Anyone can start a rumor and build on it with fabricated incidents. To have to defend yourself when innocent makes you look more guilty sometimes based on how you handle yourself. This is the main reason why defense attorneys don’t want to put their clients on the stand. Guilty or not you have to defend yourself which some people don’t do well. I say look at the source and the proof and then make a determination. The Jury is still out here.

Rolling Eyes
247
Points
Rolling Eyes 05/25/10 - 07:12 pm
0
1
I believe that Folks is a

I believe that Folks is a wretched bald faced liar and I'm voting for Nikki. End of story.

ustabe
1
Points
ustabe 05/25/10 - 11:39 pm
1
0
Hey, Baron, have you looked

Hey, Baron, have you looked at Nikki's husband? He's no hunk, either. And whether there's anything to Folks' story or not....who really cares? If Nikki's the better candidate, then vote for her, not for what may or may not have happened in her personal life 'way back when. By the way, exactly how long ago is "several years"?

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