South Carolina blogger and political consultant Will Folks has released a series of what he claims are text messages between himself, an AP reporter, another GOP political operative, and the campaign manager for gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley — with whom Folks claims he had an inappropriate physical relationship.
The texts, posted on Folks site, FITSNews, are dated about 10 days ago and consist of discussions about various reporters working on a story that involves Haley and Folks, and how to kill the story. In one May 15 text, Haley campaign manager Tim Pearson tells Folks “I’m telling you man, we keep this under wraps and nh is going to win.”
Just one of the texts, purportedly sent from GOP operative Wes Donehue to Folks on May 14, actually describes the topic of the story being discussed: “Now, I don’t give a fuck of you believe me or not. Your the one who screwed her. You’re the one who bragged about it. She’s the one who told BJ. Yall point fingers at your own damn selves and leave me the fuck out of it.”
According to Folks, “BJ” is B.J. Boling, a staffer for Haley opponent Rep. Gresham Barrett (R-SC).
Folks went public with the alleged affair on Monday in order, he says, to preempt a story by the Columbia Free Times. In one of the purported texts, from May 13, Pearson tells Folks: “Free times apparently called some legislators. Assuming it’s hutchins.”
Folks also posted a “missed call” from Haley herself on the afternoon of May 17. About an hour later, Folks texts to Haley: “FYI … I’m denying any report that I said anything to anyone and refusing to dignify politically-motivated rumors with a response.”
Donehue did not dispute the validity of the texts in an interview with a South Carolina newspaper. In one of the texts from May 14, Folks says to Pearson: “Word I hear is that wes [Donehue] is shopping an affidavit.”
The next day, Pearson texts: “I think we both deny it. I think an affadavit is something we can beat down. Legally and politically.”
AP reporter Jim Davenport, who also appears in the texts — he sent Folks a message May 14 asking, “What is this stuff about ur having an affair with Nikki Haley?” — declined to comment to TPMmuckraker this morning. AP spokesman Jack Stokes didn’t comment on the veracity of the texts, saying only, “We continue to try to vet the facts behind the story, as we have from the beginning.”
The Haley campaign has not commented. Pearson’s voicemail box was full this morning.
(This post has been updated since it was published.)