Mark Sanford, who has survived a historically brazen sex scandal to remain in office as governor of South Carolina, today came out in defense of gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley — a longtime political ally — over the claim of an inappropriate physical relationship made by blogger and former Sanford spokesman Will Folks.
“I think that people see that stuff for what it is, which is politics as usual and in this case a particularly evil brand of politics as usual,” Sanford said at a public event today, the AP reports.
He continued: “Inevitably there are all sorts of crazy allegations that surface in the last couple of weeks of politics. It’s happened in my campaigns over the years. It’s awful as a candidate because there is very little time to respond and there is very little way to disprove some of these crazy allegations that come the last couple of weeks,”
Folks was Sanford’s spokesman from 2001 to 2005. But during the Sanford sex scandal last year, Folks’ site, FITSNews, was the go-to source for news and gossip about the governor’s infidelity. Folks even called on Sanford to resign. So it’s not surprising that the governor isn’t leaping to Folks’ defense.
Folks claimed last week he had an affair with Haley, and has since produced text message and phone records suggesting there was a close relationship of some kind — whether personal or professional (he worked for Haley as a consultant in 2007). But Haley has categorically denied there was an affair.
It was Sanford who urged Haley, a state representative, to throw her hat in the governor’s race. When Sanford admitted to trysts with an Argentine woman last June, Haley was markedly cautious in her criticism.
A few days after Folks announced he was resigning as Sanford’s spokesman in July 2005, he was arrested on a domestic violence charge to which he later plead guilty.
Since late last week Folks has been mostly silent on the Haley story on his blog, FITSNews. In recent days he has released no new information to help substantiate his claim of an affair. But, he tells TPMmuckraker in an email, there’s more to come. “I met [with] my attorneys this morning and have another meeting scheduled for this afternoon,” he wrote. “We released the phone records as soon as we could, we’ll release the rest of the information we have as soon as we can.”