Nikki Haley exposé fails to surface, blogger Will Folks’ affair claims in doubt

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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Will Folks claimed he was pressured to admit his extramarital affair with South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley last week because of a soon-to-be-broken news story detailing his “inappropriate physical relationship” with the Republican. But, a week later, that damning newspaper article is nowhere to be found.

Speculation now centers on what Folks’s motivation might have been for hurting Haley just two weeks before her name appears on the Republican ballot in the Palmetto state.

From day one, Haley has denied an affair ever took place. Folks has countered those denials by disclosing a few phone, text records and conversations on his political blog that he says show the two had late-night phone conversations and hence an illicit relationship.

On his website, Folks insinuates the Columbia Free-Times newspaper was about to break a story about his affair with Haley, and indeed the newspaper itself has admitted one of its reporters did investigate such a rumor. But according to one knowledgeable source, while a Free-Times reporter did talk to Folks on May 13, no story was ever budgeted to run that week.

The reason? The Daily Caller has learned that around the time Sarah Palin endorsed Haley at a Columbia rally, an attorney for the paper advised editors not to run the story because the paper only had one source alleging the affair.

Folks did not return messages from The Daily Caller left on his cell phone and sent to his e-mail address asking him to name the news outlet that he says pressured him. But his blog mentioned last week that reporter Jim Davenport, the senior statehouse reporter in Columbia of the Associated Press, was also looking into the story.

“The short answer is no,” said spokesman Jack Stokes, when asked if Folks reacted to a potential story from the AP. Dan Cook, the editor covering the story at the Free-Times, did not respond to requests for comment.

As for Folks’s motive, Red State’s Erick Erickson has backed away from his report last week boasting of proof that Folks had “been trying to sell this story for a year.” Erickson said then he knew “who paid Will Folks to push this story out there.”

In an interview with The Daily Caller, Erickson said he was concerned about being “definitive” about the report because his sources on the subject have stopped answering his phone calls. “I don’t know for sure,” Erickson now says. “I can’t prove it.”

He also said “lawyers got involved to keep me in bounds,” as a precaution against any legal issues. Still, Erickson said, “it seems awful odd that a guy who was a Haley supporter all along” all of a sudden blurted out an alleged affair so close to the primary.

RedState’s editor also said his original post was written partly in jest to make fun of how Folks over the last week has slowly released information proving the affair. “By and large the reason I wrote those posts on Friday was to mock the same people who have been reporting every dribble of news” that’s been on Folks’s website, Erickson said.

As for Folks, Erickson noted how the blogger isn’t saying much about the matter anymore: “I think by now it’s turned into a joke.”

A spokesman for Haley’s campaign declined to comment for this story.

The Daily Caller’s Amanda Carey contributed to this report.

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