A Midlands-area hospital isn’t happy about an ongoing inquiry into the controversial tenure of then-S.C. Rep. Nikki Haley … but its attorneys did recently release one additional piece of information pursuant to that inquiry which further implicates its most infamous former employee.
Lexington Medical Center’s latest disclosure – along with the cat-and-mouse game that Haley appears to be playing with local reporters – could wind up provoking a climactic battle in what has become the Palmetto state’s most notorious “unsolved” political mystery.
In a tersely-worded Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) response sent last month to former Board of Economic Advisors Chairman John Rainey – who has been investigating Haley’s stormy 21 month tenure at the hospital – a lawyer representing Lexington Medical Center issued a blanket rejection of Rainey’s latest round of inquiries.
Well, with the exception of one inquiry …
The FOIA response did provide some new information related to the timing of a controversial job application that Haley (or a mysterious “phantom”) filled out in August of 2008.
On that application, Haley allegedly listed her 2007 income at Exotica International (the clothing store run by her parents) at $125,000 – and requested that she be paid this same amount by the hospital. The only problem with Haley’s alleged income declaration? According to federal tax returns – which the Republican candidate belatedly released during the 2010 gubernatorial race – she only made $22,000 from Exotica in 2007.
Haley has admitted filling out a two page application with the hospital (one that contains her signature) but she has repeatedly denied filling out the longer-form five page application.
“It was a piece of paper that I didn’t fill out, that I didn’t sign, that had no information from me on it at all,” Haley told a friendly reporter at the Charleston Post and Courier shortly after the story broke.
Haley’s denials strain credulity, however … particularly when you consider the vast amount of personal information that anyone attempting to fraudulently fill out the application would have had to possess. Specifically, they would have had to know Haley’s social security number, address, job history, past supervisors, job duties, education, as well as a security question (and answer) and the user name and password that she created for the application process.
In fact, Haley was caught in a bit of an “insta-contradiction” regarding the password question recently.
Now, according to the hospital’s latest FOIA response, we find out that the two-page section of the application (which Haley admits filling out and signing) and the five-page section (which she denies filling out) were actually part of the same online application.
“Based upon a review of LMC’s information systems, it appears that the application was completed electronically on August 5, 2008 beginning at 5:39 p.m.,” hospital attorney David B. Summer wrote to Rainey. “The ’2-page section’ and ’5-page section’ to which you refer are both part of a single electronic application.”
According to the hospital, Haley personally signed the two page section at a later date – and that this signature covered the entire seven pages of information that she submitted.
Obviously that conflicts with what Haley has said publicly. In fact, in off the record conversations with at least two friendly reporters, we’re told that Haley has directly accused the hospital of filling out the application for her.
So … why won’t she make that allegation publicly?
“My guess is she knows it isn’t true,” said one reporter who spoke with FITS on condition of anonymity.
Jennifer Wilson, a spokeswoman for Lexington Medical Center, reiterated the hospital’s previous denials when we questioned her about Haley’s off-the-record accusations.
“No one at the hospital filled out the application for her,” Wilson said. “I don’t know why she would say something like that.”
Haley’s office refused to comment for this story.
Up to this point, literally everything Haley has said publicly about her tenure at Lexington Medical Center has turned out to be demonstrably false.
For example, after she was hired in August of 2008 at a vastly-inflated salary Haley said that she competed “fair and square” for the position. However, emails published by The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper last September revealed that Lexington Medical Center created the $110,000 a year job specifically for Haley at the direct request of the hospital’s CEO, Mike Biedinger. Also, prior to receiving the job Haley had helped the hospital win approval to a new open heart surgery center.
In April 2010, Haley stepped down from the post – with her campaign manager Tim Pearson telling FITS that she wanted to devote all of her time and energy to her upcoming gubernatorial campaign. In fact, Pearson specifically denied rumors that Haley had been forced from her job – and praised her work at the hospital.
However, according to emails published last October by the Associated Press, Haley’s departure from her $110,000 a year job with Lexington Medical Foundation was far from amicable – and nothing like Haley described it in the press. In fact, it was downright hostile – with Haley bringing in an attorney to negotiate a settlement after she was on the verge of being put on leave for failing to show up for work.
In spite of this record of deceit, Haley still wishes to be taken at her word regarding the Lexington Medical Center fiasco. Not only that, in off-the-record whispers she’s apparently calling her former employers a bunch of liars.
Once again Haley needs to step up … one way or the other. Either she should admit what everybody already knows (that she filled out the damn application) or directly accuse the hospital of doing it for her.
Until she does one of those two things, this scandal isn’t going to die …