Anti-Haley Republicans bring message to Charleston

Conservatives question gubernatorial candidate's taxes, contracts, and honesty

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It's a big if, but if Vincent Sheheen wins Nov. 2, he can thank Republicans who have launched a very public campaign against fellow Republican Nikki Haley.

The group Conservatives for Truth in Politics continues to rail against Haley, bringing up years of delinquent tax filings (two of which were more than a year late), as well as a $42,500 contract with a Columbia firm for her "connections" and an unusually well-paid position as a Lexington County hospital fundraiser. Oh, and there are those affair allegations from two GOP political insiders who say they slept with Haley — both men have signed affidavits in support of their claims.

"These questions are disturbing to the conservative mind," says former Charleston County Republican Party Chairwoman Cyndi Mosteller, the sister of Republican state Sen. Chip Campsen.

Her group has called on Haley to sign her own affidavit that the affair claims are false, and for Haley to release all of her tax records for a full, transparent review.

As the race tightens, state GOP Chairwoman Karen Floyd is calling for unity, telling supporters in an e-mail yesterday that "public bitterness and anger against fellow Republicans is doing the work of the Democrats for them."

But the organizers of Truth in Politics say they're doing the right thing by raising these questions about Haley.

"Any candidate running for governor has a right to be challenged and we have a right to the truth," says Sam McConnell, another former Charleston County Republican Party chair and the brother of current S.C. Senate leader Glenn McConnell.

To be sure, no other group has had this kind of firepower against a candidate before, but the anti-Republican Republicans are nothing new.

In 1998, Republicans for Jim Hodges found success. Eight years later, it was Republicans for Tommy Moore working against Gov. Mark Sanford's reelection.

"They are working hard, if not harder than the Democrats, to push the Aiken County state senator across the finish line ahead of Sanford," noted Lee Bandy, then a political columnist for The State.

The big difference in four years? No incumbency and a lot more ammo for Haley's opponents.

With the polls still leaning in Haley's favor, Mosteller understands the reality of what that will mean come Nov. 3.

"If things get really bad, I might take a hike on the Appalachian Trail," Mosteller says.

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