COLUMBIA, SC — S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley called out state Sen. Katrina Shealy on her Facebook page Wednesday, accusing the fellow Lexington Republican of spreading a rumor about the religious preferences of S.C. Department of Social Services director Lillian Koller.
The social media fall-out started when Haley wrote that she was proud of Koller for testifying in the face of "political games" by some senators.
Koller, who suffered a stroke in December and has been under a doctor's orders to rest, testified for the first time Wednesday before a Senate panel that has been holding hearings into claims that Social Services missed abused cases that led to child deaths.
When a comment on Haley's Facebook post accused Koller of being an atheist, Haley fired back: "Dir. Koller is not an Atheist. I wish you and Sen. Shealy would quit spreading that lie. She is Jewish and the daughter of Holocaust survivors."
Shealy retaliated on her own Facebook page.
"I am so angry!!!!!" her post begins.
Shealy, a member of the Senate DSS oversight panel, said she asked the governor's staff in confidence about a rumor about Koller's religion. When she was told Koller was Jewish, Shealy "accepted that answer" and did not talk about it except to correct others.
"Now I am being reprimanded on the Governor's Facebook Page saying I am spreading rumors... Someone owes me an apology!!!"
The two Republicans and friends have been political allies since Haley backed Shealy's stunning ouster of longtime Sen. Jake Knotts in the 2012 election.
Shealy had to run as a petition candidate after a lawsuit (filed by a Knotts campaign worker) knocked Shealy and scores of other candidates off the primary ballot for improperly filed paperwork.
See Haley's full Facebook thread here:
And Shealy's response: