As Election Day approaches, the accusations and gaffes are rising.
In a new ad, petition candidate Tom Ervin accused Republican Gov. Nikki Haley of having ties to shady characters.
Meanwhile, state Rep. Bakari Sellers, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, called on his Republican opponent, Henry McMaster, to pull his new ad because it benefits Haley. And state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, the Democratic candidate for governor, used a naughty word when talking about Haley.
Sheheen’s gaffe, caught on video, started to make the rounds on national political sites Friday.
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The Democrat called Haley an offensive word during a campaign stop Thursday night in Florence.
“We are going to escort whore out the door,” Sheheen said, according to a video posted by the (Florence) Morning News.
Sheheen immediately corrected himself: “We’re going to escort her out the door.”
The crowd laughs and Sheheen grins.
A S.C. Democratic spokeswoman said Sheheen did not say the offensive word.
“The line ‘escort her out the door’ became garbled, and he re-enunciated immediately afterwards in the speech to make himself clear,” party spokesman Kristin Sosanie said. “This is nothing more than a fabricated controversy.”
Haley campaign spokeswoman Chaney Adams said, “This is just one more extension of Vince Sheheen’s entire campaign that has been nothing but shameful and false attacks.”
A new state television ad out Friday from Greenville’s Ervin accuses Haley of having close connections with businessmen who are “shady at best, perhaps criminal.” The campaign said it plans to spend $500,000 to air the ads.
Ervin accused Texas businessman Chowdary Yalamanchili of sending Haley $56,000 in campaign contributions through companies he owns.
Statewide candidates cannot accept any more than $3,500 in an election cycle from an individual, political-action committee or business, according to state law. But separate businesses, even those owned by the same person, can contribute up to $3,500 each.
In an interview, Ervin said Haley’s use of a loophole in the election law “calls into question her ability to lead and pass meaningful ethics reform. The governor should be setting an example for all elected officials.”
Ervin also raised questions about a potential conflict of interest in a $1 million loan that Haley received from a California bank last year.
The father of Haley’s financial adviser, Neal Shah, helped found the bank that made the loan to Haley and her husband, Michael. The couple, in turn, loaned the money to a California businessman for a short-term construction transaction that netted the couple a $25,538 profit after paying interest, according to a report this summer by The State newspaper.
“First, her personal financial adviser, Neil Shah, and his dad, Peter Shah, developed a loan scheme for a million dollars to benefit Haley’s back pocket,” Ervin’s ad says.
Efforts to reach the Shahs were unsuccessful Friday.
“The governor has many questions to answer with how this loan was obtained,” said Ervin, a former state lawmaker and judge who dropped out of the GOP primary to run as a petition candidate for governor.
The Haley campaign called Ervin’s allegations an elections ploy.
“Tom Ervin has wasted millions of his own money, only to stay stuck in single digits (in polls),” campaign spokesman Adams said. “Last-minute desperation attacks from Ervin will do nothing to save him from an embarrassingly poor showing.”
Meanwhile, Sellers, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, accused his Republican opponent, former state Attorney General McMaster, Friday of possibly violating ethics laws by including Haley in a TV ad that his campaign released this week.
Haley appears briefly in a shot with McMaster in the ad with the words “Haley/McMaster.” McMaster has said he would work closely with the governor if both win their elections.
The Sellers campaign charged that, by including the governor in the ad, McMaster gave Haley an in-kind contribution that exceeded the state’s limits on contributions. Sellers said he wants the McMaster campaign to pull the ads.
Herb Hayden, director of the S.C. Ethics Commission, said he did not see a problem with Haley’s cameo, though the commission has never addressed an issue like it before.
“I just can’t imagine that that would be considered an in-kind contribution,” Hayden said.