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Mosteller: Haley puts GOP principles at risk

September 24, 2010

By CYNDI C. MOSTELLER – Guest Columnist

Vincent Sheheen’s opening words on his first TV ad, “South Carolina is at a crossroads,” are one intersection over from our state’s political realities. In the governor’s race, it is the state Republican Party that finds itself uncomfortably driven to the crossroads. With a 55 percent win in the last gubernatorial election and seven of eight constitutional offices, Republican, conservative and tea party voters together hold mathematical strength to elect our next governor. In a nation led by Barack Obama and a state led by Mark Sanford, this decision has never been more critical or more complicated.

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? We know:

1. Someone here is lying big to 2.5 million registered voters of South Carolina.

2. If, as founding father Gouverneur Morris wrote President-elect Washington, “the exercise of authority depends on personal character,” then the competency of a Haley governorship would be compromised should these allegations be true.

3. If an informed electorate is essential to a democratic republic, then South Carolinians have every right to know if a candidate asking for their sacred vote is worthy of their sacred trust.

As a Republican woman, I concur with the admonition from Clemson political scientist David Woodard, who told the July meeting of the Greenville Republican Women’s Club: “I think the most dangerous thing is that these accusations about her personal life need to be addressed in some way. …To get women into elected office in South Carolina, we cannot afford any shred of scandal in our first statewide elected female governor. … I think she has some problems of transparency.”

Now what do We the People do? We respectfully and resolutely call for transparency. Mr. Folks, Mr. Marchant and Mrs. Haley should sign by sworn oath to the veracity of their respective public statements. Any additional mechanisms available to them for making the truth transparent should be employed without delay. And others who may have corroborating information one way or the other should have the courage to send it forward now.

In response to a question on “marital fidelity while in political office” at the Palmetto Family Council forum, Mrs. Haley responded: “You are being held to a higher standard. … You’re a role model to everybody that follows you.” On the campaign trail, pro-life Democratic candidate Vincent Sheheen has repeatedly said “we need a governor we can trust.”

With both statements, I couldn’t agree more.

Ms. Mosteller is former first vice chairman of the S.C. Republican Party and former chairman of the Charleston County Republican Party. She is a Sanford appointee to the S.C. Commission on Higher Education and has appeared numerous times as a conservative guest on ABC’s Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher. Reach her at
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