Politics & Government

Convicted Abramoff deputy is helping S.C. GOP plan events

A former federal lobbyist who pleaded guilty to illegally plying congressional staffers with World Series tickets and other perks has been helping the S.C. Republican Party plan some of its headline events.

Jim Hirni, a former deputy of convicted Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, helped the state party organize a January gubernatorial debate and fundraiser in Charleston. S.C. GOP executive director Joel Sawyer said Hirni has no formal role with the party but "has helped us from time to time" as a volunteer. Sawyer would not elaborate on Hirni’s duties.

Hirni, who lobbied for Wal-Mart, the National Federation of Independent Businesses and others, has not been paid by the party, Sawyer said.

Hirni filed paperwork establishing The H2 Group with the S.C. secretary of state in April of this year. On a social networking site, the firm is described as a political consulting and fundraising firm.

Hirni attended two recent September fundraisers in Philadelphia and New York for Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley. But Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey said Hirni is not working or raising money on the Lexington state representative's behalf and the New York event was set up by Haley's staff.

Staff for former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum's political action committee said they contacted Haley about the Philadelphia fundraiser. Hirni formerly worked for Santorum, as did Haley campaign manager Tim Pearson.

Hirni said by e-mail that he is not working for Haley but declined to answer other questions about his work with the state party.

To read the complete article, visit www.thestate.com.