South Carolina never disappoints with political sex scandals. This week, conservative blogger and founder of the South Carolina politics blog FITSNews, Will Folks came out about an affair he had with Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley, a married mother of two. Folks writes:
On a very personal level I have become the primary target of a group that will apparently stop at nothing to destroy the one S.C. gubernatorial candidate who, in my opinion, would most consistently advance the ideals I believe in [ ... ] S.C. Rep. Nikki Haley. [ ... ] Specifically, within the last forty-eight hours several pieces of information which purportedly document a prior physical relationship between myself and Rep. Haley have begun to be leaked slowly, piece by piece, to members of the mainstream media. [ ... ] I refuse to have someone hold the political equivalent of a switch-blade in front of my face and just sit there and watch as they cut me to pieces.
The truth in this case is what it is. Several years ago, prior to my marriage, I had an inappropriate physical relationship with Nikki. That’s it. I will not be discussing the details of that relationship, nor will I be granting any additional interviews about it to members of the media beyond what I have already been compelled to confirm.
That same day, Haley made a statement denying these allegations, calling it a “disgraceful smear” designed to derail her campaign.
“I have been 100 percent faithful to my husband throughout our 13 years of marriage,” she said. “This claim against me is categorically and totally false. It is sad, but not surprising, that this disgraceful smear has taken form less than a week removed from the release of a poll showing our campaign with a significant lead. It is quite simply South Carolina politics at its worst.”
Former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who recently backed Haley, issued a statement telling her to be strong. Meanwhile, FITSNews issued their own statement in support of Folks:
Our lawyers were sitting around all day, twiddling their thumbs, just waiting on the phone to ring … but nothing. [ ... ] Aren’t there libel and defamation laws that protect public officials from fabricated claims? Sure there are. And while there are obviously higher standards involved when it comes to proving defamation of a public figure (see Times v. Sullivan), even elected officials can recover damages in the event it is proven that they were defamed with “reckless disregard for the truth.” Bottom line? You really can’t just “make things up.”
So … why isn’t Nikki suing us?
The answer? Hint: IT’S THE NETWORK! That’s right — FITSNews is basically saying that Haley won’t sue because she knows their texts and e-mails would come out. They’ve released a few themselves — a message from Haley praising Folks for a story he wrote back in 2005 and one from three days ago from Folks expressing his concerns about detractors and explaining his need to come clean about their relationship.
Ut oh! Sex and the 405 sees some missives on the brink of being released! Let’s hope Folks lives up to his boss, Mark Sanford and his odes are just as juicy.