Governor denies inflating earnings

COLUMBIA --- First, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley's past job as a hospital fundraiser brought questions about donations from companies tied to her legislative work. Then, she faced questions about a stormy departure after a former boss claimed she didn't show up for work.

On Wednesday, the Republican tried to explain why she appears to have boasted of a six-figure income in her application for the hospital job, earnings far less than what she reported on her income tax forms. The application stated she was making $125,000 a year with her parents' clothing business and asking for the same amount of pay from the job at Lexington Medical Center.

Haley said she never filled out the document.

"I had no input on that form. I did not sit in front of the computer and fill it out online. I did not sign it. And never did I mention the number 125 to the hospital or to anyone else, because that's not an accurate number," she said.

Inflating one's salary on a job application is not illegal, but one Democrat seized on the report to assail Haley.

"Who is sneaking around doing this?" asked state Sen. Brad Hutto, of Orangeburg.

"There's a pattern here of not getting it quite right," he said. "All we're saying is come forward now and tell us what really happened; what the real truth of this is. Somebody listed $125,000 down as your salary. It doesn't make any sense it would be anyone else but you."

Haley and tax forms she has previously made available make it clear she never earned near six figures at her parents' business, Exotica. In 2007, the year on the application, tax records show she was paid $22,000.

Haley left the hospital job last year, telling reporters she wanted to concentrate full time on the campaign. E-mails between Haley and her bosses later showed friction over the amount of time she was working and an ensuing severance deal paid her $35,000. Administrators promised not to say anything to embarrass her or question her integrity.

Haley said she had nothing to do with the salary information on the application, in part because she had already been told she had the job at a $110,000 salary. She also insinuated a hospital official must have filled out the paperwork, something the medical center questioned.

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