The Campaign Spot

Has Nikki Haley Been Hanging Around the Wrong Kind of Folks? (UPDATE: Apparently Not)

A South Carolina blogger, Will Folks, generally friendly to GOP South Carolina gubernatorial front-runner Nikki Haley, claims he had an “inappropriate relationship” with her some years back.

(Did I say “claims”? Have you seen Nikki Haley? Perhaps I meant “brags.” Or perhaps this is the most audacious bid for traffic of all time.)

It does seem, pretty clearly to be an admission against interest, as the blogger calls her “the one S.C. gubernatorial candidate who, in my opinion, would most consistently advance the ideals I believe in.”

Will Folks was a spokesman for Mark Sanford. There was a controversy surrounding a domestic-battery charge against Folks in 2005; Folks pleaded guilty while insisting he was innocent, discussing the charges in an op-ed in The State newspaper.

UPDATE: Haley says no:

A political blogger and former aide to Gov. Mark Sanford claims to have had a past romantic relationship with Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley. Haley, who is married and has two children, “emphatically” denied the claim Monday morning . . .

“I have been 100% faithful to my husband throughout our 13 years of marriage,” Haley responded in a statement. “This claim against me is categorically and totally false.”

Rep. Haley called Folks’ allegations “South Carolina politics at its worst,” though Folks and his website have often supported Haley and her political aims in the past.

We have a denial from one party, and an allegation from a party that has a history of . . . shall we say, “erratic” behavior?

From the biography of Mr. Folks on his own site:

He is also President of Viewpolitik, LLC, a Columbia, S.C.-based communications firm.

Prior to his career as a political guru and new media deity, Folks played bass guitar for the modestly successful alternative rock band Dead Agent Caper.  From thence, he was plucked out of mid-air and handed media relations, graphic design and copy writing duties for the gubernatorial campaign of former U.S. Congressman Mark Sanford.  Somehow (we’re not sure how, exactly), Sanford won, although it’s safe to say at this point that most South Carolinians would take a “do-over” on that one.

Nonetheless, Folks served Gov. Sanford’s spokesman from October 2001 to August 2005 (well, minus a six week period surrounding the 2003 inauguration when the governor was acting like a total cheapskate and Folks decided to move to Charleston with one of his many TV anchor girlfriends).

After leaving the Governor’s Office in 2005, Folks assisted on numerous campaigns including State House races, State Senate races, local bond referendums and other statewide campaigns.  Whether at the state or local level, no political campaign in which Folks was responsible for the message ever lost.

Folks’ antics along the way, however, have been the subject of much discussion and controversy — even prior to his career with FITS.

During his tenure as gubernatorial spokesman, he landed in hot water when he borrowed a cherry red Corvette convertible from a local car dealer with ties to the governor’s administration and used it to joyride around the state for a week — a single event which the Associated Press managed to milk into four statewide wire stories.

He is also alleged to have threatened economic development in Anderson County, South Carolina, even though he claims to have merely told a Chamber of Commerce representative there to go screw himself.

But hey, people tend to believe what they read in the papers.

Speaking of which, the most controversial and highly-publicized incident involving Folks was his September 2005 guilty plea on a first offense criminal domestic violence charge.  He swears to this day he didn’t do it, but this issue is brought up almost daily by those who are unable to match Folks’ rhetorical skills and are looking for something to shut him up.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Folks said he came forward because publications were working on a story on the alleged affair. I went to The State, the largest newspaper in South Carolina, and didn’t find any sense that they were working on a story on this topic, but did find this: “Folks shrugs off accusations that he is paid to publish certain stories.” Boy, that enhances his credibility, huh?

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