AIKEN --- Democratic gubernatorial candidate Vincent Sheheen stopped in Aiken on Tuesday to unveil an ad campaign that questions Republican opponent Nikki Haley's credibility.
Sheheen's stop at Aiken Municipal Airport was one of five in his "South Carolina Fly Around: The Real Nikki Haley," in which he criticized Haley's tax record of incurred fines and penalties for late payments. Sheheen said her record showed she lacked integrity and competence, which calls into question her ability to be a trustworthy governor.
"Rep. Haley argues for government accountability but makes excuses when her own actions are called into question," he said.
Reports this month found Haley was fined for failing to pay personal income taxes on time for the past five years. Haley's family clothing store, where she has done accounting work, was also penalized three times, once for not turning over tax withholdings from employee checks and twice for failing to pay corporate income taxes.
"I would expect someone running for governor to have the courage to accept responsibility for her mistakes," he said.
Haley's campaign manager, Tim Pearson, said that Sheheen's statements are off base and "obviously designed to distract voters from his own Columbia insider record of supporting one taxpayer ripoff after another."
Pearson said that state law did not require Haley to report her consulting income and she has never failed to pay her own taxes. Pearson said Haley had been fined for late payments, but paid what was owed in full.
Phyllis Maclay, of Aiken, said that despite his small following in Aiken County, others should take note that Sheheen is not "just a Democrat." About a dozen supporters turned out for the lunchtime event.
"He's poignant, and I think he'll have integrity in the office," she said. "I'm just excited for a new perspective."
Harold Crawford, Aiken County's Democratic Party chairman, said Haley's sound bites are sometimes cute, but shallow.
"People need to pay attention to the issues," he said. "Reading is fundamental sometimes."