COLUMBIA, S.C. — Gov. Nikki Haley did not use her office for personal gain while serving as a representative from Lexington County, the S.C. House Ethics Committee ruled today.
The committee weighed seven allegations against Haley that included illegally lobbying for her employers and using her office to pressure lobbyists and their clients for donations to a foundation where she worked.
All the charges were dismissed.This is the second time the committee composed of Haleys former colleagues have ended the case without punishing the governor.Members found probable cause of a violation in early May but voted to close the case after ruling no other further investigation was warranted. They reopened the probe weeks later after requesting more employment documents from Haley.The committee listened to more than 12 hours of testimony on Thursday from Haleys former employers, corporate executives, lobbyists and a former state agency head.
They all said she did not use her position as a representative to lobby for Lexington Medical Center where she worked as a $110,000-a-year fundraiser at its foundation or Wilbur Smith Associates where she was paid $48,000 as a consultant. They also said she did not pressure them or offer favors for making donations to the medical center foundation.
Haley made a surprise appearance on the witness stand late in the hearing. After saying she had done nothing wrong, the governor angrily lashed out at GOP activist John Rainey, who filed the complaint that started the ethics case.
Haley called Rainey a racist who was trying to destroy her family - a characterization based on their only meeting when she was running for governor. She also said she found it strange that Rainey was being represented by Dick Harpootlian, chairman of the S.C. Democratic Party.
Rainey, a Camden businessman and attorney, declined comment. In the past, Rainey has said he did not recall making the remarks that Haley alleges. Rainey was subpoenaed at the request of Haleys attorneys but was not called to testify after 12 hours of being sequestered in the Blatt Building on the State House grounds.
Haley faced a reprimand from the committee or having her case referred to the S.C. Attorney General.
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