Roughly a year ago, this website was on the verge of going down … hard.
Our founding editor Will Folks – arguably the most influential fiscal conservative agitator in the state – had just stepped forward and acknowledged an extramarital affair with a woman widely-presumed to be the most fiscally-conservative candidate in the Republican gubernatorial field.
It was a bombshell story … almost as big as S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford’s infamous hike along the Appalachian Trail the previous summer.
So … what was the response of then-S.C. Rep. (now governor) Nikki Haley, the woman tagged with the Scarlet Letter?
She flatly denied having the relationship. In fact, she told one media outlet that she “barely knew” our founding editor. Then, ostensibly against the advice of her campaign manager, she launched the mother of all smear campaigns in retaliation – an effort which included totally fabricated (and since-retracted) hit pieces that ran on leading national blogs and local websites.
Believe us, the bombardment nearly finished us off …
“The entire world is kicking the shit out of you,” one national reporter told us.
Yup … it was.
What wasn’t covered at the time (at least not as much)?
The fact that our founding editor spent several weeks prior to his shocking admission working with Haley’s staff in an effort to keep the story “under wraps” (their words, not ours). Those efforts – along with threats from political enemies and probing inquiries from the media – were documented in the release of dozens of text messages (and subsequent acknowledgments from the press outlets who were chasing the story).
Other than shifty-eyed denials, Haley offered absolutely nothing to refute any of these details.
In fact, she invoked a legislative exemption to keep her taxpayer-funded emails and computer records hidden from public view. Months later, she conducted a positively Nixonian release of mostly spam emails – refusing to let the press have access to the vast majority of her taxpayer-funded correspondence or her government-funded computer hard drives.
She has yet to release any of this public information, by the way.
Also, she refused to sign an affidavit.
In the little over a year since this scandal went down, FITS has continued to drive the debate in South Carolina politics. How? By advocating for the same things we’ve always advocated for – tax cuts, spending cuts, expanded parental choice and real government restructuring. We’re proud of that – as well as the intelligent, honest and irreverent way we’ve gone about our business. As a result, we’ve picked up literally thousands of new readers.
What has Haley done?
Well, she got just 51.3 percent of the vote in the most “Republican” state in the nation (in one of the biggest “Republican” election cycles in decades), and she’s been busted in lie after lie after lie after lie after lie since she won the GOP nomination and took office.
More importantly, after promising transparency and limited government on the campaign trail – Haley has run a secretive administration built around backroom deals and phony spending cuts. She also approved more than 99 percent of the largest budget in state history.
While this website has survived – and thrived – in the wake of the scandal, Haley has been derailed by multiple lies, hypocrisies and other assorted miscues, the combined effect of which has her hovering below the political equivalent of the Mendoza line (in no small part due to our efforts to hold her accountable).
And obviously that’s what matters to us – holding Haley (and every other South Carolina politician) accountable for their handling of our tax dollars. Nothing is more important than that. And nobody is ever … ever going to stop us from doing that.
What doesn’t matter as much? Tell-all books or ghost-written memoirs, lawsuits that may be filed, depositions that may be taken, DNA evidence that may exist or medical diagnoses that may clear up once and for all who had sex with who – and when.
After all, there’s no philandering or non-philandering way to lower taxes, cut spending, expand parental choices or fix government – you either do it, or you don’t.
Of course all the “other stuff” does move internet traffic, though … as we know quite well (and as several new mainstream media reports related to the “Wikki” scandal this week will bear witness). And yes – we’ll eventually have a definitive answer regarding whether “Sic’s Willie” ever made its way into “Nikki’s nookie,” assuming that’s something anybody still cares about.
Be that as it may, though, in the one year, one month and one week that’s elapsed since our founding editor let his infamous “chips fall” – we can say one thing with certainty: Nobody puts Sic Willie in a corner.