Will Folks at FitsNews:
[…] this website is fighting for several fundamental ideals – academic opportunity for all of our state’s children, the promotion of individual liberty, and the creation of a more prosperous economic climate, to name just a few. These ideals obviously matter a great deal to me – which is why I fight so hard for them – and why I cannot (and will not) permit anyone to compromise my ability to continue fighting for them.
In recent weeks, however, a group of political operatives has attempted to do just that. In fact, on a very personal level I have become the primary target of a group that will apparently stop at nothing to destroy the one S.C. gubernatorial candidate who, in my opinion, would most consistently advance the ideals I believe in. For those of you unfamiliar with the editorial bent of this website, the candidate I am referring to is S.C. Rep. Nikki Haley.
This network of operatives has made it abundantly clear that in the process of “taking down” Rep. Haley, they will also stop at nothing to humiliate me, destroy my family and take a sizable chunk out of the credibility this website has managed to amass for itself. Such is the blood sport of S.C. politics, I suppose – particularly in the wake of the scandal that consumed my former boss, Gov. Mark Sanford.
Specifically, within the last forty-eight hours several pieces of information which purportedly document a prior physical relationship between myself and Rep. Haley have begun to be leaked slowly, piece by piece, to members of the mainstream media. I am told that at least one story based upon this information will be published this week. Watching all of this unfold, I have become convinced that the gradual release of this information is deliberately designed to advance this story in the press while simultaneously forcing either evasive answers or denials on my part or on Nikki’s part.
I refuse to play that game. I refuse to have someone hold the political equivalent of a switch-blade in front of my face and just sit there and watch as they cut me to pieces.
The truth in this case is what it is. Several years ago, prior to my marriage, I had an inappropriate physical relationship with Nikki.
I will not be discussing the details of that relationship, nor will I be granting any additional interviews about it to members of the media beyond what I have already been compelled to confirm.
It is what it is, and aside from the Haley family – Michael, Nikki, Rena and Nalin – I feel no need to apologize or explain myself to anyone. People are human. We make mistakes. And as I have learned from experience, the key to life isn’t the mistakes we make, it’s how we choose to handle them.
I do owe my wife, Katrina, an apology for failing to disclose certain things that took place prior to our marriage. I know that’s not the technical definition of infidelity, but it is a form of unfaithfulness that has broken the trust between us – a trust which must now be rebuilt. I also owe her an apology for the storm that my family has been facing for the past few weeks, and the storm we will no doubt continue to face in the weeks to come.
Ben Smith at Politico:
Will Folks is a credible enough character that the AP has run with the story, and Haley’s campaign put out a statement just now denying the claim and calling it “South Carolina politics at its worst.”
I have been 100% faithful to my husband throughout our 13 years of marriage. This claim against me is categorically and totally false.
It is sad, but not surprising, that this disgraceful smear has taken form less than a week removed from the release of a poll showing our campaign with a significant lead. It is quite simply South Carolina politics at its worst.
These attacks — and those sure to follow — are an effort at distraction, but I will keep my focus on what matters, and that is delivering South Carolina’s government back to our people. That’s a fight I have fought for the last five years. That’s why I entered this race for Governor. And that’s what I will continue to do, despite any outrageous and false claims that are thrown at me.
This story, as you’d expect in South Carolina, is a Byzantine one, with a lot of complicated back story. Folks, a former spokesman for Mark Sanford, pleaded guilty to domestic violence a few years ago. He was also the target of intense enmity in Columbia for reportedly working with Sanford on a project to oust recalcitrant Republican incumbents — and of intense scrutiny. One South Carolina source points out this clip, in which a reporter jokes with Folks about digging through his trash.
One other note: I think the way this story plays is extremely difficult to predict, but while male politicians sometimes pay a price for infidelity, the notion of reporters and opposition researchers digging into the past of a married woman for allegedly straying strikes me as more likely to produce sympathy than anything else.
The South Carolina blogger and former Sanford spokesman whose claim to have had an affair with gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley is roiling the state’s politics was on her campaign’s payroll in 2008.
State ethics filings available online indicate that Haley’s campaign for State Senate paid Will Folks’s company, Viewpolitik, a bit more than $1,100 in consulting fees for the months of January and February of that year, along with a reimbursement of $173.50.
Chris Good at The Atlantic:
Sarah Palin, meanwhile, steps in to defend Haley on her Facebook page. Palin says she warned Haley that she would be targeted by smears (with some implication that Palin knows this by experience, as Palin has complained many times of unfair treatment by political opponents in Alaska and by the national media). Palin wrote:Well, whaddya know? South Carolina’s conservative candidate, Nikki Haley, recently zipped to the front of the line in her state’s race for governor; and lo and behold, now accusations of an affair surface.Nikki categorically denies the accusation that was spewed out there by a political blogger who has the gall to throw the stone, but then quickly duck and hide and proclaim he would not comment further on the issue. Quite convenient.When Nikki and I held her endorsement rally on the steps of the beautiful and historic South Carolina state house a few weeks ago, I warned her and her family that she would be targeted because she’s a threat to a corrupt political machine, and she would be put through some hell. That, unfortunately, is the nature of the beast in politics today – especially for conservative “underdog” candidates who surge in the polls and threaten to shake things up so government can be put back on the side of the people.South Carolina: don’t let some blogger make any accusation against your Nikki if the guy doesn’t even have the guts or the integrity to speak further on such a significant claim…Haley collected 30% support in a recent poll; her nearest competitor, Attorney General Henry McMaster, collected 19%. That makes Haley the favorite to win the GOP nomination. The other candidates include Rep. Gresham Barrett and Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer.
Haley’s surge came after Sanford’s PAC spent $400,000 on TV ads for her, and after Sanford’s estranged wife Jenny endorsed her. So even the impression of a scandal, which rocketed around the blogosphere this morning, was toxic. I haven’t seen real reaction yet from the blogs that have supported Haley, but there’s a palpable hope that Folks — whom reporters take seriously — is simply lying.
Erick Erickson at Redstate:
A South Carolina blogger who was tossed by Mark Sanford and plead guilty to domestic abuse, is claiming Nikki Haley had an affair with him several years ago. Note that he’s making sure everyone knows that it happened before *he* was married. So it is all Nikki Haley’s fault.
There are just a few problems:
- Nikki Haley is categorically denying it.
- The people who first started pushing the rumor are in opposing camps and only started after the Palin endorsement.
- This violates the very basic laws of nature: hot women do not have affairs with ugly guys unless those guys are rich. The self-admitted adulterer is decidedly not rich, but decidedly wants to reinsert himself into the process as a player.
So this guy will take out Nikki Haley, have people absolve him of his domestic abuse by taking out Nikki Haley, and everyone will be happy that the upstart state representative from Lexington was taken out with a lie after years of her fighting for transparency in Columbia to stop the lies her own party has been telling.
*Take home point for the moms in the audience: how likely is it that a hot woman would want to have an “inappropriate physical relationship” with this guy when, according to his timeline, she would have had very small children at the time and more likely than not wanted sleep above all other things?
If true, one would hope the blogger, Will Folks, talked with Nikki Haley first. Given the circumstances, I think I’d have elected to say nothing and perhaps even deny it if she chose. Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor and touting one’s own horn as a truth teller because you’re telling the world you slept with a presumably married woman doesn’t strike me as all that virtuous in the end. What do people in South Carolina government do, screw everything that moves? What. Ever. It’s news. How true it is is yet to be confirmed.
Brian O’Connor at Red Dog Report:
The easiest assumption to be made here is that only two people knew whether they actually had an affair or not. One, with a questionable background, benefits by making the affair public simply because the number of hits on his website doubles or triples (meaning big revenue) and by feigning “the details are no one’s business”, Folks keeps visitors coming back for more until the day he decides to fully spill the beans. Also, making a few enemies is a sure way to create a top blog (rule 4).
The other has nothing to gain, and in fact might be losing a gubernatorial election due to it.
I wonder who has been leaking the information.
The shame of it is: Nikki Haley would make an awesome governor for the state of South Carolina. It is a shame that her poor decision along another preson’s need for attention are going to do some serious damage to her chances.
Cheves Ligon at FrumForum:
Even an occasional glance at his daily postings shows Will Folks has a thing for the ladies: his blog is famous for the Carolina’s Hottest Lawyer Contest where lusty legal-types submit names and pictures of the comeliest female attorneys in the state, with a final vote determining the “Hottest.” But Folks has been a real force in S.C. politics. He worked as spin-meister for Gov. Sanford for several years before becoming a blogger, then distanced himself after the famous(ly weird and awkward) Argentinean-mistress sex scandal rocked the news. His blog — fitsnews.com, which he calls “Unfair. Unbalanced.” — is ubiquitous in South Carolina politics. His cranky, sarcastic commentary and insider scoops have made his blog a daily read among the powerful. And politicians have treaded lightly around Folks . . . at least until now.
Take away: there is a critical mass of women who are now in politics, maybe enough in fact for them to possibly have A Sex Scandal Of Their Own.
Now this is strange: “A political blogger is claiming he had an ‘inappropriate physical relationship’ with Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley,” of South Carolina. How can this possibly be true? South Carolina Republican political bloggers are wayyyyy too busy jerking off to bulldogs and muppets on the Chatroulette to ever hunt down fancy human ladies, even if they do have cool Tolkien collections to show off. Pics or didn’t happen.
Alex Pareene at Salon
Justin Elliott at Talking Points Memo
UPDATE #3: Erick Erickson
Byron York at The Washington Examiner on Erickson
Dan Riehl on Erickson
Conor Friedersdorf on Erickson
UPDATE #4: John Hudson at The Atlantic
UPDATE #5: Allah Pundit
Justin Elliott at Talking Points Memo