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BIPARTISAN PUSH COULD LEAD TO FIRST REAL PROBE INTO ETHICS ALLEGATIONS

Republicans and Democrats in the S.C. House of Representatives are on the verge of reopening an ethics investigation into  S.C. Gov.  Nikki Haley, multiple sources at the S.C. State House have confirmed to FITS. In fact a resolution sponsored by S.C. Rep. James Smith (D-Columbia) would direct the House Ethics Commission to reopen its inquiry into allegations that Haley illegally lobbied on behalf of at least one of her employers (and committed numerous other ethical lapses).

It’s not yet clear whether Smith’s resolution will have bipartisan support, although several GOP leaders have privately told FITS that they support reopening the Haley investigation – which was thrown out by the House Ethics Commission on a technicality after Haley basically threatened to expose other lawmakers’ dubious dealings.

“She broke the law,” one Republican lawmaker told FITS. “It’s just a question of how we move forward with a legitimate investigation.”

This week’s discussion comes on the heels of an appeal of the ethics committee’s dismissal that was filed late Friday by GOP fundraiser John Rainey.

In Rainey’s appeal – which was sent to S.C. Speaker Bobby Harrell – Rainey cited “numerous deficiencies in the Ethics Committee proceeding” and “erroneous logic” employed by the committee’s members in reaching its decision to clear Haley only moments after determining that probable cause existed to investigate her.

Rainey also blasted Haley’s efforts to bully lawmakers into backing off of the investigation.

“Haley’s everyone-is-doing-it defense stains the integrity of this body and all honest public servants,” his complaint states. “The House must reject Haley’s invitation to view this matter through the cynical lens of an influence peddler and make a proper factual investigation to resolve these questions once and for all.”

Rainey’s compliant – originally filed in Richland County last November – alleges that Haley committed multiple abuses of power during her six years as a member of the S.C. House of Representatives. In fact it has already produced at least one “smoking gun” related to the allegation that Haley illegally lobbied on behalf of Lexington Medical Center, her former employer. Haley has also been accused of illegally lobbying on behalf of Wilbur Smith Associates – an engineering firm with extensive business before the state – and failing to report $42,500 in income received from the company between 2007-09.

(To read Rainey’s complaint in its entirety, click here).

Haley has repeatedly sought to frame Rainey as a “bitter has been,” and was strutting after the House Ethics Committee voted to clear her.

“I’m amazed at how naysayers continue to fabricate things to try and create distractions,” Haley wrote at the time on her Facebook page. “At some point they will realize I don’t care about their wasted energy.”

FITS readers overwhelmingly believe that the investigation into Haley should be reopened (by an 89-11 percent margin, in fact). However a similarly overwhelming margin of our readers (84-16 percent) do not believe lawmakers will do so.

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