Sarah Palin lent her considerable Facebook megaphone in support of South Carolina gubernatorial hopeful Nikki Haley, with whom a prominent Palmetto State blogger alleged today he had an "inappropriate physical relationship" years before.
"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," Palin wrote. "That, unfortunately, is the nature of the beat 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."
The decidedly personal attack--one that Haley categorically denied in a statement today--is a "good sign" that the insurgent candidate has her opponents running scared, Palin said.
Professional provocateur and one-time press aide to outgoing Governor Mark Sanford, Will Folks wrote Monday that a network of anti-Haley political operatives were shopping damaging information about an alleged affair he and Haley had to local media. But while Folks insisted "at least one story based upon this information will be published this week," no reports of Haley's alleged infidelity have surfaced from mainstream outlets. And there is no indication any will.
Beyond his initial admission--insomuch as one might call Folks' transparent traffic play an admission of guilt--the blogger said he refuses to comment further, offering no additional details about the relationship.
"I will not be discussing the details of the relationship," he wrote, "nor will I be granting any additional interviews about it to members of the media beyond what I have already been compelled to confirm."
Questioning both the timing of Folks' accusations, which came only days after a poll showed Haley leading in the four-candidate field to succeed Sanford, and his refusal to go on the record about the alleged tryst beyond what is written in his blog post, Palin sought to cast some reasonable doubt on Folks' claims.
"South Carolina: Don't let some blogger make any accusation against your Nikki if the guy doesn't have the guts or integrity to speak further on such a significant claim," her post read. "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."
Haley, whose endorsers include Palin, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and RedState.com editor-in-chief Erick Erickson, vehemently denied the "smear," which she said was "South Carolina Politics at its worst."
"I have been 100% faithful to my husband through our 13 years of marriage. This claim against me is categorically and totally false," her statement read.
Beyond the former Alaska Governor's unmitigated support for Haley, South Carolina political observers in Haley's camp note that Folks' professional trajectory and personal legal scrapes are not the kind to inspire confidence, or sink a winning campaign.
Folks became a lightening rod in the Sanford administration--in much the same way Vice President Joe Biden is prone to irritate handlers and aides with his proclivity to gaffe--by often departing from the day's prescribed messaging. Two month after resigning from the Governor's staff in September of 2005, Folks pled guilty to criminal domestic violence for shoving his then-fiancee into furniture over an argument the couple had.
Palin, who endorsed Haley only ten days ago, closed with a word of encouragement to her Palmetto State fans: "South Carolina friends, don't let 'em just make things up."