House committee to reconsider Haley ethics decision

The South Carolina House Ethics Committee is scheduled to discuss whether to re-open an ethics complaint against Gov. Nikki Haley.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH, AP) -- The South Carolina House Ethics Committee is seeking more information as they consider whether to reopen an ethics complaint against Gov. Nikki Haley.

The committee voted unanimously Friday to ask for employment documentation from the first-term governor and her previous employer to verify whether she worked for a hospital's foundation or the hospital itself. The charges involve illegal lobbying.

Committee members stress they have not reopened the case, but are seeking clarification as they decide their next step.

Haley's office has until May 25 to respond.

Haley's attorney Butch Bowers calls the ordeal a "political witch hunt."

The committee considered a measure Friday asking the Republican-controlled panel to reconsider its decision to drop all charges on May 2 after it unanimously found probable cause to investigate the charges. The committee chairman says the case involved gray areas of ethics laws on lobbying.

Rep. James Smith filed a resolution Tuesday asking for a complete vetting. The Columbia Democrat says the back-to-back votes gave an appearance the process was a sham.

At the time Gov. Haley praised the ethics panel's move to dismiss the claims against her.

"We have watched naysayers bring up ethics charges after ethics charges and bring up false claims and everything else. There's no truth to it," said Haley.

Representative Laurie Funderburk was the only dissenting vote in the ethics panel decision. The Kershaw County Democrat argued a hearing is necessary to further explore the issue.

"We would've had the opportunity to have more information on the subject than was available to us," said Funderburk. "Having this decision made without a hearing is almost like sweeping it under the rug."

The Republican activist who brought the original complaint has appealed the committee's decision to the full House. John Rainey says he will not attend Friday's hearing, but if the committee re-opens the case, he'll participate fully.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)