Haley testifies before House Ethics panel

Gov. Nikki Haley testifies during House Ethics panel hearing Thursday night.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH, AP) -- South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called the man accusing her of ethics violations a "racist, sexist bigot" for referencing terrorism during a conversation during her gubernatorial bid.

Haley told the House Ethics Committee Thursday evening that long-time Republican activist John Rainey insulted her family when he said he didn't want to later discover she was related to terrorists.

Haley's parents were born in India. She also mentioned the meeting in her book, and Rainey told The Associated Press earlier this year he wanted to see tax records to ensure the candidate he backed didn't wind up in a scandal, as after Gov. Mark Sanford's affair.

Rainey didn't immediately return a phone message from the Associated Press Thursday.

Rainey accuses Haley of illegally lobbying in jobs as hospital fundraiser and consultant for an engineering firm with state contracts. The Republican governor has said she did nothing wrong.

Shortly before 10 p.m. Thursday, the panel called it a night, with plans to come back at 8:30 a.m. Friday.

The committee's hearing was part of the panel's first investigation of a sitting governor. The panel subpoenaed 11 witnesses.

Earlier Thursday, the panel took a recess around 11 a.m. Members of the panel had to return to the State House to vote on the budget. Robert Farrell, Vice President of Wilbur Smith Associates, was being questioned before the recess. After the recess, an attorney for Lexington Medical Center, Thad Westbrook, was questioned. The panel then took a lunch break around 1 p.m.

Four witnesses were questioned by 2:45 p.m. and all of them said they were not aware of, or did not experience any illegal lobbying by Haley. A fifth witness took the stand just before 3 p.m.

The panel took a break around 5:45 p.m. after questioning eight witnesses.

A Lexington Medical Center lobbyist said Haley was highered for fundraising purposes only. Lexington Medical center CEO Michael Biediger said he only knew of one occasion where a donor felt any pressure, which was when Haley supposedly told the donor that the hospital would be upset if he did not contribute more money.

Duncan McIntosh, Vice President of Blue Cross and Blue Shield, said although the donations from the company did increase substantially from 2007-2011, the funds were to help the hospital and were not because of Haley.


(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)