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nikki haley

By FITSNews || Nine days after our founding editor acknowledged having an “inappropriate physical relationship” with S.C. Rep. Nikki Haley in the Spring of 2007, a second man has come forward claiming to have had improper relations with the Republican gubernatorial front-runner.

Larry C. Marchant, Jr. – a powerful Columbia lobbyist and the top campaign advisor to S.C. Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer – said he had a “one night stand” with Haley in June 2008 at a parental choice convention in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Marchant was fired by Bauer’s campaign Wednesday shortly before coming forward with his revelation. 

Haley’s expense reports confirm over $2,000 in reimbursements for the conference, which was put on by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative policy group.

Marchant said he informed Bauer of the indiscretion a week ago.

Marchant and Haley – both of whom were married at the time of the alleged encounter – worked together closely in 2008 on Haley’s bid to win the chairmanship of the powerful House Labor, Commerce and Industry (LCI) Committee.  Haley ultimately bowed out of that contest to pursue her guberantorial ambitions.  

At a gubernatiornal debate in Charleston, S.C. Wednesday night Haley denied the claim and blamed Bauer for the allegation, saying his campaign had been “fishing the story” earlier in the week and only decided to fire Marchant when no one picked it up.  Bauer denied having anything to do with personal allegations against Haley.

Interestingly enough, we’ve spoken with several sources who say that Marchant had been secretly providing Haley with inside information on Bauer’s campaign for several months – including the timing and content of television ads as well as Bauer’s overall strategy for the race.  These sources say Bauer fired Marchant for disloyalty, not his  

Marchant acknowledged that he had no proof of the encounter, and lawmakers who attended the conference two years ago tell FITS that they only observed Marchant and Haley in public settings.

“I cant’ say that it happened but I can’t say that it didn’t happen,” one House member told FITS.

Folks, on the other hand, has supported his allegation with some circumstantial evidence, including text messages that hint at a cover-up by the Haley campaign as well as phone logs showing dozens of late night calls between himself and Haley during the time they were romantically involved.

Those releases haven’t proven anything, but have lent credibility to his initial claim – and his motivation for making it.

Folks has released  no new information this week, but told CNN Thursday morning that he had turned over a list of witnesses to his attorneys along with “all communication” from the relationship.

In addition to Haley and Bauer, U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett and S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster are also in the running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.

GOP voters go to the polls Tuesday.  If no candidate receives a simple majority of votes in that election, the top two finishers will face off against each other in a runoff election two weeks later.