Former staffer to Gov. Mark Sanford claims affair with Nikki Haley

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
Font Size:

A former aide to South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford claimed on his website Monday that he once had an affair with state Rep. Nikki Haley, who is running for governor of the Palmetto State.

“Several years ago, prior to my marriage, I had an inappropriate physical relationship with Nikki,” said Will Folks, a political blogger who was once the spokesman for Sanford.

Haley’s campaign denied the affair in a statement to a South Carolina TV station. “I have been 100 percent faithful to my husband throughout our 13 years of marriage. This claim against me is categorically and totally false.”

Folks, in his post, said he was forced to admit the relationship because of several impending news stories in the works detailing the affair.

“I am told that at least one story based upon this information will be published this week,” he continued. “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.”

Folks does not reveal when the affair took place, nor any other details in his post, and said he will not elaborate on the relationship. He did not return requests for comment from The Daily Caller.

Haley, a conservative who was endorsed by Sarah Palin, was elected to the state house in 2004. She is also close to Sanford and his ex-wife, Jenny.

Palin, who spoke with Haley by phone from Alaska on Monday, came to the candidate’s defense in a Monday afternoon Facebook posting.

“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,” Palin wrote in the note. “And don’t believe anything a liberal rag claims or suggests unless the reporter involved has the integrity and the facts to report to you so you can make up your own mind.”

Palin also blasted the “lamestream media” for biting on the story. She compared the treatment of Haley to the treatment of her by the press.

“For traditional media to rely on an accusation via some blog entry is almost laughable, but I know the seriousness of it because that’s exactly what my family and colleagues have had to put up with, every single day, for the past couple of years.”

Nancy Mace, a spokeswoman for Folks, declined to comment on what newspapers were investigating the affair rumors, as Folks claimed. But in a statement earlier today, she listed Jim Davenport of the Associated Press as one of the reporters looking into the story.

Columbia’s Free-Times newspaper also said in an article today that they had been investigating the affair for several weeks and one of their reporters questioned Folks on May 13 about the relationship. A source told that paper that Folks admitted to the affair a year ago.

In 2005, Folks pleaded guilty to domestic violence after he was arrested for shoving his fiancée into furniture during an argument.

Folks says his Web site, where he posted the allegations, was “conceptualized out of sheer boredom and an insatiable lust for attention” and “covers politics, sports, pop culture and everything in between with a simple commitment to the truth and to keeping it real.”

E-mail Alex Pappas and follow him on Twitter