The fight over alleged ethics violations by Gov. Nikki Haley when she served as a member of the House is being heard far and wide from Columbia.
The governor claimed House Speaker Bobby Harrell was interfering with the House Ethics Committee investigation, which could be an ethics violation in itself. Harrell responded to those charges yesterday.
Office of the Speaker
SOUTH CAROLINA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 25, 2012
Contact: Greg Foster
A Statement from Speaker Harrell
(Columbia, SC) – House Speaker Bobby Harrell issued the following statements:
“Statements made by Governor Haley today at a press conference are simply not true.”
“It is not true to claim that lawyers for the House Ethics Committee were ‘directed’ to refuse to meet with the Governor’s lawyers in order to accept the documents the Committee requested. The truth is, the Governor’s lawyers did in fact present those documents directly to counsel for the Ethics Committee. In fact, we now know that the Governor’s legal team – in a 30-minute meeting with lawyers for the Ethics Committee – were given an opportunity to fully discuss these documents. All of this took place yesterday and to assert otherwise is not the truth.
“It is not true to claim that I, as Speaker of the House, caused the Ethics Committee to take further action. Rep. James Smith introduced a House Resolution asking the Committee to further their investigation. The resolution was referred to the Ethics Committee who then decided to hold a public hearing on Rep. Smith’s Resolution. During that hearing, the Committee voted to request more specific documentation related to the complaint.
“It is not true to claim that the House’s ethics rule change was not supported by our Caucus.”
House Majority Leader Kenny Bingham said, “The ethics rule change that the House adopted was introduced over a year ago. It simply brought the House’s ethics rules in line with the same procedures employed by the Senate Ethics Committee and the State Ethics Commission. During a Caucus meeting, we asked our Members if they wanted to bring this rule change to the House Floor and pass it – the overwhelming response from our Caucus was, ‘absolutely.’ And in a unanimous 98-0 roll call vote, it was adopted by the full House.”
Speaker Harrell continued, “The Governor is misleading the press and trying to distract the public from what is a very serious matter. These are major criminal violations of the law that Governor Haley has been accused of committing. Given the Governor’s claim that there is no validity to these charges, combined with the extreme measures and false accusations now being employed by Governor Haley – One can only wonder why? Why to this level? What does Governor Haley have to hide?”
After the committee found probable cause we learned of the very serious allegations including lobbying while a member of the General Assembly and soliciting funds on behalf of her employer who was a lobbyist principal
Harrell concluded, “These allegations were not brought by any member of the General Assembly. The only thing the House is interested in is getting to the truth of these issues that have been put before us. The only request I made of the House Ethics Committee was for them to fully and thoroughly investigate the complaint brought before them – and that request was only made after a public finding of probable cause that Governor Haley may have violated state law.”