Ethics Committee Clears Sikh Lineage SC Governor Haley

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Columbia, SC – It’s My Life…..Bon Jovi. Great song!

“You better stand tall

When they’re calling you out

Don’t bend, don’t break

Baby, don’t back down”

South Carolina governor Nikki Haley on Friday night posted the above lyrics as her status update on Facebook, summing up her struggle at the end of the day when she was cleared of any wrongdoing by the South Carolina House Ethics Committee after she angrily attacked the man who accused her of ethics violations during testimony before the committee yesterday.

Haley, an Indian American whose parents are Sikh immigrants, called her accuser, Republican fundraiser John Rainey, “a racist, sexist bigot who has tried everything in his power to hurt me and my family.”

Haley testified at the Ethics Committee hearing even though she was not subpoenaed to appear. During her testimony, Haley described a meeting with Rainey during Haley’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign during which he stated he didn’t want to support her only to find out she had terrorist connections. “He came in and was demeaning and he was demanding and basically said that he wanted me to prove certain things so that if I took the oath, they wouldn’t find out later that my family was related to terrorists,” Haley said. “I’m still very offended by that.”

Rainey said he didn’t recall the remark and if he did say it, he probably meant it as a joke. He also said that the context in which the remark was delivered was important. Rainey had previously convinced former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford to run for office, only to see him felled by news of an affair. Rainey said he wanted to make sure he didn’t support another governor who would be engulfed in scandal.

Rainey had accused Haley of improperly lobbying for two former employers, the highway firm Wilbur Smith Associates and the hospital Lexington Medical Center Foundation, during her time as a state representative from 2005 to 2010. Both firms had business before the government during Haley’s time in office, but Haley said she did not inappropriately try to influence the government’s decision in either case.

The House Ethics Committee had previously investigated the issue and cleared Haley of any wrongdoing in early May without a hearing. They reopened the investigation on May 30 after strident criticism, saying there were too many unanswered questions about Haley’s actions. Rainey had also filed a lawsuit against Haley related to his accusations, but it was dismissed by a circuit court judge. He has appealed that decision.

The committee decided unanimously to reject three of the charges against Haley. They also dismissed a fourth charge, which claimed that the governor had not properly reported payments she received from Wilbur Smith, with only one member dissenting.

During the hearing, multiple former business associates of Haley’s defended her, saying that they had never instructed her to lobby the government on their behalf, and there was no indication she had done so. Robert Ferrell, Vice President of Wilbur Smith Associates, was one such employer. He said that Haley was never told to lobby anyone. His instructions to her, he said during the hearing, were “to keep your eyes open, be cognizant of what’s going on around you when you go to social functions, when you go to business functions, and if you hear of opportunities … you let us know,” he said. “It was not a proactive, go knock on doors and start looking for work. It was, just be aware of what’s going on.”

Haley commended the Ethics Committee for their ruling in a statement. “The Ethics Committee did its job thoroughly, professionally, and well. It’s just a shame that our judicial and legislative bodies have had to waste so much of their time on phony political charges that never had any evidence behind them or any basis in fact,” she said. (IATNS) 

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