A source who claims to have been in Salt Lake City, Utah at the time S.C. Rep. Nikki Haley was accused of having extramarital sex with lobbyist Larry Marchant is providing specific details about the evening leading up to their alleged encounter.
On June 2, 2010 – less than a week before the South Carolina Republican primary election – Marchant claimed that he and Haley had a “one night stand” together on Father’s Day weekend in 2008 at an American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) event in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The second allegation of infidelity lobbed at Haley during the Republican gubernatorial primary (our founding editor’s mea culpa was the first), Marchant’s claim was dismissed and widely-ridiculed at the time. In large part this was because up until the moment he stepped forward Marchant was employed by one of Haley’s GOP gubernatorial rivals, S.C. Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer.
Haley has acknowledged attending the Salt Lake City conference (and staying in the same hotel as Marchant) but she has repeatedly denied that they had sex. In fact, during a radio interview with WVOC-AM’s Kevin Cohen shortly after the allegation was made, Haley was asked if there had been a time during the Salt Lake City trip when Marchant could claim that the two of them had been alone together.
“No, he can’t,” Haley told Cohen. “Not only that we’ve had representatives go on the record that said we were in a group setting all the time.”
Haley accused Bauer’s campaign of shopping the story to reporters (a charge which turned out to be inaccurate), and took the dramatic step of saying that she would resign as governor if the Marchant allegation – or any other allegation of infidelity – were ever proven.
So … what really happened in Salt Lake City?
Marchant has offered a generic version of events to reporters – but has refused to comment beyond that. During the general election, however, he provided a sworn affidavit confirming that he and Haley had “sexual intercourse” in Utah, but unlike the affidavit sworn by FITS founding editor Will Folks, Marchant did not provide much in the way of details.
Nor did he provide any new details when we contacted him shortly after the election for this story.
“I stand by my original statements and am not discussing this matter further,” Marchant told us, referring all Haley-related questions to his attorney.
According to Marchant’s previously-confirmed version of events, he arrived in Salt Lake City on Saturday June 14, 2008 at approximately 10:00 a.m. local time. An hour later, he checked into the Marriott hotel in downtown Salt Lake City – where Haley was also staying.
At approximately 3:15 p.m. local time, Marchant met up with Haley and S.C. Representative Eric Bedingfield at Squatter’s Pub Brewery (147 West Broadway) – a bar located two blocks from their hotel. Bedingfield has confirmed meeting with Haley and Marchant at Squatters Pub. He says that they left at around 4:45 p.m., a time which is confirmed by our source.
Approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes later, at 7:30 p.m. Salt Lake City time, Marchant met Haley, Bedingfield and two other individuals for dinner at “Spencer’s For Steaks and Chops” (255 Southwest Temple) – a restaurant which is located a block away from the Marriott. The identities of the fourth and fifth dinner guests are unknown.
The dinner party broke up at around 10:00 p.m. local time, at which point Haley, Marchant and one of the other dinner guests walked outside and began searching for a nightclub.
At approximately 11:20 p.m., Haley, Marchant and a third individual entered the W Lounge (358 Southwest Temple) – a dance club located three blocks from the Marriott hotel. Inside the club, Haley danced with multiple partners – including Marchant – for several hours.
Marchant and Haley remained at the club until 2:15 a.m., at which point they began the walk back to their hotel, the source says. Marchant has previously provided members of the media with credit card receipts to verify the time of his departure from the W Lounge.
As we noted in our coverage of Marchant’s affidavit, we have also spoken with a source who claims that he chatted with Haley and Marchant at the corner of Broadway and Southwest Temple streets at around 2:25 a.m. as the pair walked back to their hotel room.
According to the source, Marchant had his arm around Haley as they walked down the street back to the Marriott.
At approximately 2:40 a.m., Marchant and Haley entered the Marriott and went to their respective rooms. Fifteen minutes later, however – just before 3:00 a.m. – Marchant is said to have come downstairs and entered Haley’s room, which is where he stayed until 6:15 a.m the following morning.
Less than two hours later, Marchant was on a plane back to South Carolina.
Obviously, none of these details necessarily proves Marchant’s story, but similar to the text messages and phone logs released by Folks in support of his claim, it does lend plausibility to the allegation. We’ll be honest … we didn’t believe Marchant’s story initially. Like many others, we were convinced he was simply doing whatever it took to get his candidate elected.
Now? We’re not so sure …
We may not have to wait long, however, to find out the truth. In fact, sources tell FITS that Marchant is contemplating legal action against Haley on several fronts. First, we’re told that he may sue Haley for tortious interference over her alleged efforts to harm his lobbying and political consulting contracts. We’re also told that Marchant is waiting on Haley to directly refer to him as a “liar” (she’s stopped short of that word in her denials, by the way) so that he can sue her for defamation.
Marchant declined to discuss either of those prospective cases with FITS and a phone call to his attorney was not immediately returned.
Whatever happens, it appears that Haley – who has thus far refused to sign an affidavit herself – will be forced at some point in the not-too-distant future to answer questions under oath regarding some of her alleged extramarital activities.
Will her answers in a deposition or on the witness stand be different than what she’s told the public?
Stay tuned …