Nikki Haley speaks before the House Ethics Committee on June 28, 2012.
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The House Ethics Committee has cleared South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley of charges she illegally lobbied while a member of the House.
It represents the panel's second dismissal of the case in two months.
The committee vote Friday followed two hours of behind-closed-doors deliberations.
Haley said Thursday she did nothing wrong in her previous jobs as a fundraiser for Lexington Medical Center's nonprofit and a consultant for engineering firm Wilbur Smith Associates. She was among 11 witnesses who testified.
The Republican activist who brought the charges against the first-term Republican governor was subpoenaed but never called to testify. John Rainey was sequestered throughout the 12-hour hearing.
The committee voted May 2 to dismiss the charges, immediately after finding probable cause existed. It reopened the case four weeks later.
The following are statements issued after the ruling:
Gov Nikki Haley:
"The Ethics Committee did its job thoroughly, professionally, and well. It's just a shame that our judicial and legislative bodies have had to waste so much of their time on phony political charges that never had any evidence behind them or any basis in fact. Despite these attempts at political distraction, I'm pleased that our administration continues to stay focused on what matters, bringing in record new job announcements, cutting taxes for small businesses and reforming state government."
Statement by John Rainey:
"Today it is clear that the House Ethics Committee harbors a culture of corruption enshrouded in a conspiracy of silence. The House Ethics Committee hearing was a shameful farce orchestrated by a Republican Committee to cover up for a Republican Governor. The entire process was designed procedurally and substantively to conceal the truth, contrary to Chairman Smith's promise to follow it wherever it may lead. The members of the Committee ought to be ashamed of themselves.
"As the Complainant in this matter, I was excluded from even being present at the hearing. I was subpoenaed to give testimony and told that all subpoenaed witnesses would have to remain in a holding room separate from the hearing where they would not be allowed to watch or listen to the proceedings or have contact with those watching or listening. I followed those rules in good faith. Over the course of 12 hours, I was never called to give testimony. This was in direct contradiction to prior statements by the Committee that they wanted to hear from me in this matter. More importantly, the Committee and the Governor acted in bad faith by using this as a way to exclude me from hearing any of the evidence presented in response to my Complaint. This is fundamentally unjust and corrupt at its core. Whichever side decided to subpoena me, knew they would not call me as a witness.
"Based upon my initial review of notes taken at the hearing, there was no substantive effort to obtain the truth from witnesses with personal knowledge. Gov. Haley was never asked by anyone to explain her email describing her efforts to "switch and hold" votes or the numerous other documents that evidence the fact that she was hired by special interests to help them get what they wanted from state government. Gov. Haley was given a blank check to say whatever she wanted with impunity - and she did. Other witnesses were allowed to testify over and over again that they could not recall even when confronted with specific times, dates and email conversations.
"Finally, I have no comment regarding Gov. Haley's personal attacks against me. These personal attacks are merely an effort to distract from the substantive and still unresolved questions I have raised. I understand that Gov. Haley testified under oath that she was so offended by my conduct at our meeting that she abruptly left and told her staff that she did not want my support or my money for her campaign. Attached to this statement is a handwritten thank you note I received from Gov. Haley just a few days after our meeting. I believe this demonstrates, yet again, her inability to tell the truth.
"I've been a lifelong Republican. Other people joined our Party 30 years ago because they were sick and tired of the corrupt Democratic Party. I'm devoted to my Party, but I'm more devoted to my state and my country. As Chairman of Santee Cooper, I looked public corruption squarely in the face and led the state's public utility successfully through the Coal Scandal. And I lived through Operation Lost Trust when 17 members of the General Assembly were convicted of selling their influence. We are at that crossroad again, only this time, my Party, the Republican Party, has become the party of corrupt power. Enough is enough."