Nikki Haley's overwhelming victory in South Carolina's Republican gubernatorial primary this summer tamped down speculation that accusations of extramarital affairs would compromise her upward political trajectory.
Voters seemed unmoved by the rumors and handed Haley the GOP nomination in an un-suspenseful runoff.
A few weeks ago, however, the accusations (made most prominently by a local conservative blogger) resurfaced. A longtime Republican consultant in South Carolina, who has co-written a book with Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), worked with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and praised Haley in the past, called on the gubernatorial candidate to release e-mails relating to the affair allegations.
In a July 22 address to the Greenville County Republican Women's Club, Dr. David Woodard, a Clemson University political science professor, said that Haley's refusal to turn over relevant documents threatened not only her standing among conservatives (Margaret Thatcher, he proclaimed, would have released the e-mails) it potentially compromised future female candidates in the Palmetto State.
[I] think the most dangerous thing is that these accusations about her personal life need to be addressed in some way. Nobody seems to want to do it and I can understand why because these deal with the most personal things people are and you should probably leave [those] things alone.
But one of her accusers has released six to seven hundred emails while Nikki Haley has refused to respond because they are protected under state law, her computer is embargoed because it was used as a state computer. I think she needs to release her emails. Now I say this why? Because if they prove her innocence, why not release them? It is very clear to me that Margaret Thatcher would have released them. She was fearless in what she did.
If we are going to get women into elected office in South Carolina we cannot afford any shred of a scandal in our first statewide elected female governor. If scandal were to break out, heaven forbid, for the first female governor in South Carolina what happens to the women who runs as the second governor, or who tries to be the third governor?
The video, which was passed along to the Huffington Post by a South Carolina source, has gone largely unnoticed by the national press. That may be because Woodard has previously worked with Rep. Gresham Barrett, Haley's defeated primary opponent (though not on the governor's campaign). He also ties to Haley's Democratic gubernatorial challenger, Vincent Sheheen. Woodward taught the state senator at Clemson University. But his comments about Haley are hard to dismiss as partisan rhetoric considering the lengthy work he's done for Republican candidates both nationally and within the state.
"If there is a partisan affiliation it is all on the [Republican] side," Woodard told the Huffington Post, when reached by phone. "She is running on transparency. Sheheen released ten years of tax returns and she hasn't. And at the same time she won't address this e-mail issue. I think she has some problems of transparency."
The Clemson professor insisted that, while perhaps unfair, Haley was being held to a higher standard. Gov. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) may have actually acknowledged an extramarital affair. But he was not a gender trendsetter like his potential replacement.
"It would have a ripple effect for years," he said of the potential of ethical misconduct.
Neither Haley's campaign nor DeMint's office contacted Woodward about his comments, he told the Huffington Post.
"Perhaps I'm persona non grata," he speculated. One person who did weigh in, however, was South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Carol Fowler
"South Carolina Republicans are split because so many of them are suffering from buyer's remorse," she said. "Nikki Haley won the primary running on transparency, but the only thing really transparent about her candidacy is that she represents four more years of Mark Sanford's failed policies for South Carolinians."