The emergence of this small band of Republicans daring to ask the questions that every Republican — as well as every independent and Democrat — should be asking themselves about Nikki Haley (there’s little point of asking them of Nikki) is interesting.
On the one hand, it seems a spur-of-the-moment thing. “Conservatives for Truth in Politics” is sending out hurried press releases that are shot through with typos (here’s a somewhat cleaner version of the one they sent me via e-mail), and announcing a website that’s still under construction. The Facebook page had eight fans when I checked a few minutes ago, one of them being me — I had signed up to see if being a “fan” would get me more info.
But on the other hand, it may have been awhile in the making. Group Leader Cyndi Mosteller — former chair of the Charleston County GOP and sister of staunch Sanford ally Chip Campsen — wrote an op-ed piece that ran in The State Sept. 22, headlined “Haley puts GOP principles at risk.” An excerpt:
Since the June 2009 Sanford-Chapur expose, our state’s reputation has been tarnished by a leader compromised. A decade earlier, Congressman Mark Sanford stood for Bill Clinton’s resignation on the Lewinsky affair, declaring that “it would be much better for the country and for him personally” to resign. Unfortunately, a lack of shame is often the closest companion to lack of honor, and both leaders held tight their power of title, even after having lost the power of principle. With Nikki Haley, Republicans might be approaching that unfamiliar crossroads where victory of title and victory of principle are more perpendicular than parallel.
As former vice chairman of the state Republican Party, my political hemoglobin runs iron-strong red. I’m down the line for Republicans Alan Wilson, Mick Zais and Tim Scott — not just for their stands, but for their character. In contrast, facts and allegations regarding Mrs. Haley raise valid questions in many a Republican conscience.
Though running on a platform of transparency and accountability, Mrs. Haley has not paid her taxes by April 15 for the past five years, and has not even filed them by the end of her extension in three of those years — years she served in our General Assembly. And Mrs. Haley’s company, where she was the accountant, incurred three liens for withholding and income taxes not paid until 19 months past due. Yet Mrs. Haley continues to campaign on such statements as: “I know I’m the right person to go into this next position because I’m an accountant, who knows what it means to stretch a dollar.”
And what of the sexual allegations? They are so removed from core Republican values that if it weren’t for Mark Sanford, we could never imagine them possibly being true — nor imagine that any candidate would consider himself or herself worthy of governing if they were. When former Sanford press secretary Will Folks asserted “an inappropriate physical relationship with Nikki,” released more than 60 damage-control texts made to Haley’s campaign and published a detailed log of late night-calls with Mrs. Haley, she called them “categorically and totally false” and insisted, “I have been 100 percent faithful to my husband throughout our 13 years of marriage.” That denial drew an unequivocal “that is not true” from Republican lobbyist Larry Marchant, who said he had sex with Mrs. Haley and “I know in my heart it happened, and she knows in her heart it happened.”
But what do We the People know?
Ms. Mosteller was a county co-chair for Henry McMaster. Henry, a big believer in traditional GOP lockstep loyalty, has dutifully lined up behind the Haley insurgency, while Cyndi isn’t going so meekly into that dark night.
Yesterday we saw Henry’s successors as party chair, Katon Dawson and Karen Floyd, doing their duty by standing up to denounce the Mosteller group as being unrepresentative of Republicans. That will no doubt keep most of the rank and file in line.
But among your more knowledgeable Republicans, I suspect that there are a lot who are privately thinking what Ms. Mosteller is saying out loud. That’s one reason, I suspect, why Henry McMaster is the only one of Nikki’s primary opponents who is visibly supporting her, which is a fairly radical departure from the norm in this state.
Others, if they’re thinking at all, have to be wondering what else they will learn about Nikki after they elect her governor. Thus far, every rock that has been turned over in her general vicinity has had something troubling crawl out from under it.
Better to ask the questions now, rather than when it’s too late.