S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley threatened to expose unethical business dealings by members of the S.C. General Assembly in the event its members pursued an investigation into her own potentially criminal behavior … or at least that’s what was strongly implied by Haley’s response to the S.C. House Ethics Committee.

Five Republicans on the committee – including its chairman Roland Smith – voted to clear Haley of wrongdoing this week on a host of ethics allegations, including charges that she illegally lobbied on behalf of one of her employers while serving as a member of the S.C. General Assembly.

Despite a preponderance of damning evidence, the committee concluded that Haley did not lobby illegally on behalf of either Lexington Medical Center (an association she disclosed publicly) or Wilbur Smith Associates (an association she did not disclose publicly).

“What happened … was nothing more than a political exercise in Republicans watching out for Republicans,” S.C. Rep. Boyd Brown (D-Winnsboro) said in a statement.

He’s absolutely right …

Lawmakers let Haley off on a technicality because it was clear that she was going to come after the skeletons in their own closets … and trust us, there are plenty of unresolved ethics issues facing current House members.

In a copy of Haley’s defense obtained exclusivley by reporter Corey Hutchins of The (Columbia, S.C.) Free Times, Haley’s attorneys write that the governor’s “business activities and conduct are commonplace in the Legislature.”

“To find otherwise would not only impugn the integrity of many other members of the General Assembly, but also that of many of South Carolina’s best corporate partners: BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, Michelin, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, and several others,” Haley’s response continues.


“You pull the trigger on me, I pull the trigger on you,” a.k.a. the Cold War doctrine of mutually assured destruction.

And not only that, Haley was threatening to embarrass the special interests who pad the pockets of these corrupt politicians – giving herself an additional layer of insurance.

In addition to this thinly-veiled threat, Hutchins’ report also reveals that the House Ethics Committee never attempted to independently verify the information included in the complaint filed against Haley.

“Do we have an investigator on our staff who can go out there and do an investigation like the State Ethics (Commission)? No,” Rep. Smith told The Free Times. “We have one full-time employee.”

Once again … this is exactly why there needs to be independent oversight of ethical complaints filed against current or former state lawmakers.