COLUMBIA, S.C. — Tea party favorite Nikki Haley, a Republican candidate for governor whose campaign gained momentum with recent endorsements from Sarah Palin and Jenny Sanford, vehemently denied allegations that she had an inappropriate relationship with a political blogger several years ago.
Haley, a legislator vying to become the state's first female chief executive and replace disgraced Gov. Mark Sanford, called the claim posted on the blogger's site Monday a smear. She questioned the timing two weeks before the primary, saying it was an attempt to derail her campaign, once considered a long-shot.
"I have been 100 percent faithful to my husband throughout our 13 years of marriage. This claim against me is categorically and totally false," Haley, a 38-year-old mother of two, said in a statement. "It is quite simply South Carolina politics at its worst."
The claim came from Will Folks, a conservative blogger who previously served as Sanford's spokesman. Folks said the relationship took place in 2007 when he did communications work for Haley, including writing speeches and news releases. He offered no proof of it and refused to go into any details. "I'm not going to paint pictures," he told the Associated Press on the condition his statements would not be published before the allegation was posted on his blog.
Folks pleaded guilty to criminal domestic violence in 2005 and left the Sanford administration around that time. He is now a political consultant and runs FITSNews.com, a conservative site that features occasionally insightful commentary, thinly sourced stories of state political intrigue and photos of women in bikinis.