A group of Republican activists, critical of Gov. Nikki Haley during last fall's campaign, is asking her to explain why she abstained on a 2007 vote to override then-Gov. Mark Sanford’s veto of state money for a proposed new state farmer’s market in Richland County.
Conservatives for Truth and Politics said Wednesday that Haley, then a Republican state representative from Lexington, should more fully explain her statement in a S.C. House journal that she abstained because she might have a conflict of interest if she voted on Sanford’s veto of $14.8 million for the project. The House voted to override Sanford’s veto.
Haley was paid $42,500 from 2007 to 2009 by the Columbia-based engineering firm Wilbur Smith, according to her tax records. Company officials said they hired Haley to locate their firm development work because of her connections. Haley has declined to say what work she did for the firm.
Wilbur Smith was a contractor for the Richland County market, which eventually was scrapped after a political fight and, after delays and rising costs, moved to Lexington County.
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“What was the business relationship you had regarding someone who could profit from the farmer’s market appropriation?” the group asked in a press release. “You claim to be the 'Transparency Governor,' here is your chance to let the sunshine in.”
Haley is in Europe on an economic-development trip. Her spokesman Thursday said the governor did nothing wrong.
“A company then-Rep. Haley worked for was bidding on a contract that they did not get, on a project that she did not work on; but out of an abundance of caution she noted a potential conflict of interest at the time,” said spokesman Rob Godfrey. ”If there's one thing South Carolinians can do without, it's more political mudslinging from sore losers from the last campaign."