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S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley was cleared of wrongdoing by her former colleagues on Friday after a rigged hearing determined that she did not illegally lobby or use her public office for personal gain while serving as a member of the S.C. House of Representatives.

Despite clear and compelling evidence that she violated multiple ethics laws, Republicans on the S.C. House Ethics Committee nonetheless voted to dismiss all of the charges against Haley. This decision was based exclusively on testimony from the governor and sympathetic witnesses – and was reached without a public examination of the evidence (including evidence sought by the committee). Worse still, Haley’s accuser – GOP fundraiser John Rainey – was never allowed to present his case to the committee.

(To read Rainey’s case, click here).

Instead, Rainey was forced to listen as Haley called him a “racist, sexist bigot” during her testimony – an unsubstantiated character assassination based on nothing but Haley’s recollection of a 2010 meeting between the two.

Oddly enough, Haley’s claim that Rainey insulted her at his meeting seems to be totally at odds with a friendly note she sent Rainey shortly thereafter.

Teflon Trikki: Cleared of wrongdoing

As we noted in our earlier coverage, this committee made Adolf Hitler’s Volksgerichtshof look downright impartial – once again conclusively proving that the S.C. General Assembly is incapable of conducting an investigation based on anything other than a pre-determined political objective.

As we reported two weeks ago … the fix was in on this hearing from the very beginning, and the state’s mainstream media bought it hook, line and sinker.

“The witness list compiled by the committee appears to have been drawn up solely for the purpose of exonerating Haley, not getting to the bottom of what she did as a lawmaker,” we wrote on June 15.

Three weeks earlier, we noted that “there is little confidence that the serious charges against the governor will ever receive a thorough, public vetting.”

And that’s exactly the way it went down … although we could have never predicted that the committee would have rolled over and played dead quite to the extent that it did.

Numerous witnesses (most of whom would have likely faced some significant legal exposure had it been determined that Haley lobbied illegally) testified that they “couldn’t remember” or “didn’t recall” specific facts related to the case, while Haley was never subjected to anything resembling a cross-examination.

“(The) hearing was a collusive farce designed to paper over specific allegations evidenced by then-Rep. Haley’s own words,” Rainey attorney Christopher Kenney said. “The Committee wasted time hearing from witness after witness with no personal knowledge. The few witnesses with personal knowledge testified repeatedly that they couldn’t recall and didn’t remember. The Committee and their presenters never challenged them on this. Gov. Haley wasn’t asked a single question about why she was ‘switching and holding’ votes. The fix was in on this from the beginning and the House Ethics Committee ought to be ashamed of itself.”

Indeed it should.

Clear and compelling evidence existed that Haley engaged in illegal lobbying activity while she was employed by a lobbyist principal – an unambiguous violation of state law. Unfortunately, these and other allegations were completely glossed over and politely excused.  Meanwhile documents sought by the committee pursuant to this “investigation” are unlikely to ever see the light of day – because they were never introduced as evidence.

Not only that, Haley has refused to release taxpayer-funded emails from her gubernatorial office related to the inquiry – documents that were requested by a Lowcountry newspaper under the state’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) law.

The end result of all this? A former lawmaker-turned-governor who flagrantly abused her position of public trust for personal financial gain has not only been exonerated … she’s been given a stage to demonize those who sought to hold her accountable for her actions.

The evolution of Nikki Haley into a full-fledged good ol’ boy is complete … securing South Carolina’s reputation for corruption for years to come.