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Exclusive: Why Nikki Haley Wasn’t Prosecuted




|| By FITSNEWS ||   The biggest farce in South Carolina politics over the last decade was the 2012 show trial of S.C. governor Nikki Haley.

Held by the notoriously corrupt S.C. House “ethics committee” – this shameful one-day hearing not only whitewashed Haley’s serious wrongdoings (while assassinating the character of her accuser), it successfully buried all of the evidence against her.

That’s right: None of the information on Haley collected by S.C. Rep. Kenny Bingham‘s committee was ever entered into the public record (including Haley’s legislative emails, which the governor has fought to keep hidden before).

But the public whitewash – since forgotten as Haley hypocritically assumed the mantle of “ethics reformer” – was just part of the story.

The other part?

A controversial decision by S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson not to prosecute Haley in state court – outside of the corrupt legislative “self-policing” mechanism.

Wilson’s high-profile prosecutions of former S.C. lieutenant governor Ken Ard and House Speaker Bobby Harrell earned him the reputation as a crusading reformer.  But reformers who have previously supported his efforts are now questioning whether he is truly interested in rooting out public corruption – or merely clearing obstacles for his political allies.

“Two common threads in the prosecutions of Ard and Harrell stand out,” one of our law enforcement sources told us.  “Both prosecutions involved violations equal to or lesser than the governor’s abuse of the public trust.  And both prosecutions served to advance the legislative influence of Wilson’s allies.”

The source is correct: Ard’s resignation resulted in John Courson becoming president of the State Senate.  And Harrell’s resignation nearly resulted in Bingham (whose committee covered up the Haley scandal) becoming the next Speaker of the House.  In fact Bingham is likely to ascend to this position sooner rather than later – as current Speaker Jay Lucas has made it clear he’s not interested in holding the post for an extended period of time.

Both Courson and Bingham – like Wilson – belong to “The Quinndom,” a.k.a. the consulting empire of Richard Quinn and Associates.

Indicting and prosecuting Haley?  That would have done nothing for the Quinndom.  In fact it would have forced Courson to lose his powerful Senate post (which he eventually lost last summer anyway after the Quinndom cut a deal with powerful Senate finance chairman Hugh Leatherman).

During an interview last spring, FITS grilled Wilson over his decision not to prosecute Haley.

“I can’t prosecute what I think happened, I have to prosecute what I can prove,” Wilson told us at the time.

But how is that determination reached?  According to sources within the attorney general’s office, the process involved in the decision not to prosecute Haley raises more questions than answers – for both Wilson and the governor.

“Wilson regularly convenes a team of prosecutors and investigators who discuss the disposition of big ticket cases,” our source explained.

Wilson and his most trusted advisors comprise half of this panel, whereas the other half is comprised of S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) chief Mark Keel and his most trusted aides.

Keel, for those of you who don’t recall, was appointed to his post by Haley.

That’s a clear conflict of interest …

“A handful of people in a room made the decision not to prosecute her,” our source said, “with half of them reporting to her.”

Amazing … and so typical of South Carolina.

Just as lawmakers (and former lawmakers) have a “get out of jail free” card, it would appear governors do, too …

Not everyone is sold on the theory, though – despite our sources telling us that every single SLED investigator in the room (including Keel) urged Wilson not to pursue a criminal case against the governor.

For example an erstwhile Wilson supporter – instrumental in the Harrell prosecution – doubted this naked conflict of interest played a role in the decision not to prosecute Haley.

“Haley got off because they had no hard evidence and no one would confirm anything,” the source said.

Not true … there was hard evidence.  It was simply ignored.

Obviously the Haley saga is over.  At this stage of the game, it seems clear she’s dodged the bullet.

But the rumors of “selective prosecution” will continue to dog Wilson’s ongoing “probe” of corruption in the S.C. General Assembly – especially if lawmakers with obvious issues are permitted to continue doing business as usual.