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A lawsuit filed against S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley by former S.C. Board of Economic Advisors (SCBEA) chairman John Rainey may have uncovered the first “smoking gun” on South Carolina’s ethically-challenged, truth averse chief executive.

We suspect it won’t be the last …

Specifically, Rainey’s 160-page lawsuit includes an August 2008 email exchange between Haley and the CEO of Lexington Medical Center – the hospital where the former state lawmaker was employed as a “fundraiser” from 2008-2010.

Asked about the status of the hospital’s effort to secure certification for a new open heart center (which obviously has nothing to do with fundraising), here was Haley’s reply:

We have some work to do not only to switch votes but to hold the ones we have. We are as close as we are going to get and can’t afford to leave one stone unturned. We were all given assignments and are working on them. Fingers crossed!

Wait … “we?”

“Switch votes?”

That sure as hell sounds like lobbying to us …

The email was not included in the hospital’s responses to Rainey’s various Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests – for obvious reasons. It was included, however, as an exhibit in Rainey’s lawsuit against the governor.

It has been previously alleged that Haley lobbied for Lexington Medical Center, although no proof of direct lobbying activity on her part has ever been unearthed – at least not until this email was discovered.

For example, in March of this year FITS published a September 2008 email exchange between Haley and hospital CEO Mike Biediger that was released in response to Rainey’s inquiry. That exchange seemed to indicate that Haley’s job responsibilities had extended beyond the realm of fund-raising and into the realm of lobbying (which would obviously be illegal) – but there was no reference to specific lobbying activity.

At the time, Lexington Medical Center flatly denied that Haley did any lobbying on behalf of the hospital.

Haley has also been accused of illegally lobbying on behalf of Wilbur Smith Associates – an engineering firm with business before the state.