Columbia, SC (WLTX, AP) - A frustrated Governor Nikki Haley told reporters Friday that she feels an ethics complaint against her now is taking away her ability to do her job.
Haley spoke Friday morning.
The governor is particularly perturbed by what she feels is inappropriate involvement by House Speaker Bobby Harrell in the ethics complaint process. She says Harrell told a staffer not to hand over some documents in the case, and that he tried to "get the pulse of the caucus" to see if the complaint should go to the House floor.
"What I saw yesterday--it just stunk," Haley said. "That's when it reeks of toxic political mess. Yesterday it really kind of came to a head."
Harrell responded to Haley's claims in a statement Friday afternoon.
"It is not true to claim that lawyers for the House Ethics Committee were 'directed' to refuse to meet with the Governor's lawyers in order to accept the documents the Committee requested," Harrell said. "The truth is, the Governor's lawyers did in fact present those documents directly to counsel for the Ethics Committee. In fact, we now know that the Governor's legal team - in a 30-minute meeting with lawyers for the Ethics Committee - were given an opportunity to fully discuss these documents. All of this took place yesterday and to assert otherwise is not the truth."
Harrell spokesman Greg Foster says the speaker only asked the House Ethics Committee to thoroughly investigate the complaint brought by Republican activist John Rainey.
Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey says any involvement is totally inappropriate.
The complaint alleges Haley was a lobbyist while a House member, an allegation she denies.
"It went before the courts," Haley said. "They dismissed it. It went before the ethics commission. They dismissed it. What more do you want me to say?"
Haley said if there was a smoking gun, it would have already been found.
Committee attorneys asked Haley's office for more documentation than committee members requested. Foster says Harrell believes the additional request by staff was completely appropriate, but Harrell didn't ask for it.
"The Governor is misleading the press and trying to distract the public from what is a very serious matter," Harell said. "These are major criminal violations of the law that Governor Haley has been accused of committing. Given the Governor's claim that there is no validity to these charges, combined with the extreme measures and false accusations now being employed by Governor Haley - One can only wonder why? Why to this level? What does Governor Haley have to hide?"
Haley, however, said the ongoing issue is taking away from her and her staff's ability to do their jobs.
"I'm governor now whether people like it or not," Haley said. "Let me do my job. all this political mess is just getting in the way of letting me do my job."