Even as political speculation swirls that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley may be on Mitt Romney’s shortlist as a vice presidential candidate, rumors rise in South Carolina that members of the state legislature may be looking to impeach her.
The latest impeachment possibility for Gov. Haley revolves around an investigation regarding the possibility that she lobbied while sitting in the state legislature. “Right now, the ball is in the court of the Ethics Committee,” Rep. Chip Limehouse (R) told Brian Hicks of the Charleston Post and Courier.
Republican fundraiser John Rainey filed a lawsuit against Haley back in November alleging that Haley lobbied on behalf of the Lexington Medical Center while sitting in the South Carolina General Assembly. The lawsuit included an email exchange between Haley and the CEO of Lexington Medical Center, in which Haley stated, “We have some work to do not only to switch votes but to hold the ones we have. We are as close as we are going to get and can’t afford to leave one stone unturned. We were all given assignments and are working on them. Fingers crossed!”
The ethics lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge two weeks ago on jurisdiction grounds, but it was referred to the House Ethics Committee.
Haley’s office dismisses the lobbying claims as nonsense. “This was a purely political stunt by a bitter has-been and his Democrat friends,” Haley’s spokesman Rob Godfrey stated. “Rainey and his lawyer, Dick Harpootlian, need to stop wasting the courts’ time and money on totally frivolous, nonsense lawsuits, and let the courts and the governor focus on the business of running the state.”
This may be a political hit – Haley is unpopular in the state, and particularly unpopular with Republicans in the state house. During Haley’s book tour, she has repeatedly ripped her fellow state Republicans; this morning on NPR, she accused members of her own party of racism, stating, “It doesn’t ever go away.”
Haley was reportedly widely disparaged by party insiders as “Nikki Nobody” before Sarah Palin endorsed her in the South Carolina gubernatorial primaries; after that, she became a Tea Party darling and rode that wave to election. Haley has recently fallen out of favor with many members of the Tea Party thanks to her support for Mitt Romney in the presidential primary in South Carolina.
Despite rumors that Haley was under investigation by the IRS regarding her involvement in a Sikh temple’s finances, the IRS denied any such investigation. Meanwhile, the media is focused on sinking Haley at all costs, with Time magazine asking her if she’d give Sikh taxi drivers “a slightly bigger tip,” a blatantly bigoted question.
For her part, Haley says she’s not interested in the vice presidential slot on the Romney ticket. But Romney is interested in Haley as a running mate in order to connect to female voters. As Haley told CNN, “If Gov. Romney has not related to women, he needs to get out there and talk about the issues they care about.”