A South Carolina House ethics panel will rehear a complaint that accuses Governor Nikki Haley of violating state ethics laws while she was still serving in the state legislature.
Democratic lawmakers had requested that the House Ethics Committee reconsider its decision to dismiss ethics charges against Governor Nikki Haley.
Rep. James Smith filed a resolution Tuesday asking the House Ethics Committee to reopen its probe. Earlier this month, the committee voted to dismiss accusations that then Rep.-Haley violated ethics rules when she worked as a fundraiser with a Lexington hospital and as a consultant with an engineering firm seeking state projects.
But Democrats criticized the decision. “Clearly the Ethics Committee found probable cause with a 6-0 vote, then dismissed it without investigation,” said House Minority Leader Harry Ott (D-St. Matthews).
The Ethics Committee has scheduled a meeting 10 a.m. Friday to rehear the complaint.
As part of her defense, Haley’s attorney argued that Haley did not do anything illegal or different from other lawmakers in the state legislature. “Governor Haley has stayed far in-bounds of these rules and, in fact, has not done anything that is not already the norm of members of the General Assembly,” her Chief Legal Counsel Swati Patel wrote at the time.
Ott said he was upset by that defense. “She basically insinuated that we have a bunch of corrupt legislators and corrupt corporate partners who are receiving some kind of cash payments or doing something unethical.” He said the governor should present evidence that such lawmaker-business relationships exist.
The original ethics complaint was filed by Republican activist John Rainey– a former Board of Economic Advisors chairman and GOP fundraiser. Also involved in the complaint is state Democratic Party chairman and attorney Dick Harpootlian.
Haley again on Tuesday reiterated her position that Rainey’s accusations were a “political vendetta.”
“This is wasting taxpayer dollars. It’s wasting my time,” she told reporters in an unrelated press conference dealing with the state budget. “I don’t have any more time for it.”
Haley was accused of not disclosing that she was paid as a consultant by the engineering firm Wilbur Smith Associates. The firm was involved in several state projects at the time. She was also accused of lobbying and illegally fundraising as part of her job with the Lexington Medical Center Foundation. The governor has repeatedly maintained that she stayed within the law in all cases.