Barrett attacks Haley's disclosure omissions in longshot bid

Barrett questions Haley about the omission in Thursday's debate
Barrett questions Haley about the omission in Thursday's debate

By Logan Smith - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) — U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett's bid for governor in Tuesday's GOP runoff is a longshot fight to keep his reputation intact. And it's a gamble that everything possible will go right for him and everything will go wrong for state Rep. Nikki Haley.

He did that this weekend by calling Haley to task for failing to disclose $2,000 in consulting fees she earned from a Columbia firm which does business with the state.

Barrett brought up the omission during a debate with Haley Thursday night on WIS-TV in Columbia. "Are all of your disclosures public?" he asked. "Have you left anything out? I understand there might be something with Wilbur Smith omitted. I want to make sure everything was in there."

"Everything was in there," Haley responded, which a spokesman says was a reference to her 2009 tax filings. "We always said we would put everything there. We have released our tax returns. We have also released our funding disclosures for everyone. I had no problem doing that. Everything is out there."

Though Haley's work for Wilbur Smith was included in her tax filings, which has already been released, on Friday The State newspaper reported that Haley failed to disclose the paycheck on state ethics reports. Haley, who has made government transparency the centerpiece of her campaign, said the omission was accidental.

"Nikki contracted with Wilbur Smith for a period of time in 2007 and 2008," explained Haley spokesman Tim Pearson. "During that time she worked with Bob Ferrell, a long-time associate from her days in the business community, on strategy and business development for a number of projects, none of which involved state dollars."

But Barrett did not ease his attack. "Rep. Haley has spoken passionately about ending and exposing relationships legislatures have with special interests and today she can start that process by her own example, by releasing her income tax records from 2008 and 2007," Barrett said.

Pearson responded that the campaign would release Haley's tax records, but did not say when. "Nikki disclosed everything she was supposed to, and the Ethics Commission confirmed that yesterday," Pearson said on Saturday. "In addition, the Ethics Commission declared that there was no conflict of interest here, as Wilbur Smith "had no contracts with the State House of Representatives." [Barrett] is very clearly misrepresenting the facts in order to gain political benefit for his campaign."

Haley, a three-term Lexington legislator, nearly won the June 8 primary outright with 49 percent of the vote. Barrett took 22 percent in the four-way race that brought out a near-record 422,251 voters.

Barrett has seen Haley capture national media attention while he's been left shaking hands at restaurants and rallies. Political observers say that to win, Barrett will need new voters to get behind him — and will need Haley's voters to either abandon her or stay home on election day.

A run-off candidate rally and an ice cream social will be held as a "Founding Fathers Father's Day" in Aiken. Haley, Barrett and many of the Republican runoff candidates are scheduled to attend.

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