A prominent Republican donor and the former chairman of the state’s Board of Economic Advisors (SCBOA) has filed a lawsuit against S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley – seeking to establish whether she broke the law in a pair of jobs she held prior to her 2010 election as governor.
John Rainey – whose multiple investigations into Haley’s background have produced plenty of damning info – filed the suit on Thursday.
Not surprisingly, Rainey’s lawsuit focuses on Haley’s work with Lexington Medical Center and Wilbur Smith Associates – two jobs she held while serving as a member of the S.C. House of Representatives. It asks the court to determine whether Haley broke the state’s ethics laws by improperly lobbying, failing to disclose required information on her campaign finance forms and failing to recuse herself from votes that benefited her employers.
Haley’s association with Lexington Medical Center – where she worked for 20 months as a fundraiser from 2008-10 – has been a veritable trail of lies.
In April 2010, Haley left her $110,000-a-year fundraising position at the hospital after questions arose about her job performance. At the time, Haley claimed that the split was amicable and that she was leaving to focus all of her energy on her gubernatorial campaign. Six months later, however, emails published by the Associated Press revealed that the split 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.
Later, it was revealed that Haley’s job application for the fundraising position included a 2007 income estimate which vastly exceeded the amount of money Haley reported to the IRS that year. Specifically, Haley’s application stated that she made $125,000 from her family clothing business in 2007 (a figure that would explain her $300,000 home, Cadillac SUV, etc.).
The only problem with that figure? On her federal tax returns, Haley reported making only $22,000 from the “family business” that year.
The initial suspicion was that Haley may have lied on her job application – although the much more damaging allegation revolves around the possibility that Haley may have lied on her tax returns.
Beyond that, Haley has been accused of lobbying on behalf of the hospital – and Rainey’s lawsuit may contain a smoking gun to that effect.
In addition to the Lexington Medical Center drama, Haley has faced scrutiny from Rainey over her work for Wilbur Smith Associates, a local engineering firm with extensive business before the state.
In July 2010, Haley belatedly disclosed that she had received $42,500 in consulting fees from Wilbur Smith over a three-year period. These fees were not reported on her statements of economic interests – even though the firm obviously had (and still has) extensive business dealings with the state.
In fact, the vast majority of this income ($40,000) was reported by Haley two weeks after the GOP primary election – and mere hours before Republicans voted in a runoff election between her and former U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett.
Haley’s spokesman did not respond to our request for comment. A spokeswoman for Lexington Medical Center was not immediately available to respond, while a spokeswoman for Wilbur Smith Associates did not immediately respond to our request for comment.
UPDATE I: Rainey’s lawsuit is 160 pages, we’re told – and has not yet been scanned into an electronic format.
UPDATE II: Having presumably read all 160 pages, Haley’s spokesman Rob Godfrey issued the following statement to reporter Gina Smith of The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper …
“This bogus lawsuit is a transparent political stunt by a disgruntled Republican has-been and the chairman of the state Democratic Party. It’s a shame they would waste the court system’s time with this obviously frivolous suit. The governor acted completely appropriately in all these matters – something that has been made clear every time these same two career political antagonists try and rehash these issues.”