COLUMBIA -- In 2007, the year political blogger Will Folks claims he had an affair with state Rep. Nikki Haley, the two spoke by phone at least 600 times.
Folks releases what he calls 'proof' of relationship with Haley, published 05/26/10Evidence from Folks still lacking, published 05/27/10Haley says claims not worth her time, published 05/27/10
Some of those calls came late at night, lasted for hours -- and one did not end until nearly 5 a.m. At the time, Folks was a part-time consultant for Haley.
According to Folks' personal cell-phone records, which he provided to The Post and Courier on Thursday night, he and the current frontrunner for the Republican gubernatorial nomination spoke almost daily, sometimes for a minute at a time, a half-dozen times a day, and other times for upwards of an hour in the middle of the day.
Between July 1 and Aug. 31, 2007 -- the time that included most of the late-night calls -- the two spent a total of 34 hours on the telephone.
On Monday, Folks announced on his political blog, fitsnews.com, that he had an "inappropriate physical relationship" with Haley, a married mother of two. She denied the claim "100 percent."
Her campaign manager, Tim Pearson, came to her defense late Thursday.
"This is getting ridiculous," Pearson said in a statement. "A blogger drops a thousand pages of phone records unearthing the mind-blowing revelation that he and Nikki Haley spoke on the phone. Of course they spoke on the phone. It is no secret Will Folks worked for Nikki -- she happens to be one of the few people willing to disclose her association with him. Nikki has forthrightly and repeatedly denied the false allegations against her, and at some point this nonsense has to stop."
Folks has promised evidence to back up his claims, including text messages and e-mails, but so far he has not provided proof of the alleged relationship. Instead, he spent the week posting text messages between himself and Pearson, a political consultant and a reporter with The Associated Press.
The vast majority of the calls between Folks and Haley took place between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., fairly normal business hours for political operators in Columbia.
The amount of time the two talked built throughout the year. In January, they talked about 20 times, and only one conversation lasted longer than an hour. In February, they shared 60 calls. By December, the average had dropped to barely a dozen calls for the month.
The first post-midnight call came July 9, when they spoke for 77 minutes. The two shared about 10 calls in July and August that each lasted longer than an hour after about 10 p.m.
On Thursday, Folks had no comment on the release of the records, other than to say that the call data shows the two knew each other well. Haley hired Folks' company for consulting work in 2007 and 2008. She spent $3,530 in 2007 and $1,310 and 2008, according to campaign disclosure reports.
Haley said that it's not worth her time and energy, or the state's tax dollars, to release her phone or e-mail records.
"I am not wasting any energy on this -- none," Haley told The Post and Courier. "If y'all have asked for them, I don't know about that yet. But I can tell you this right now: I am not wasting any energy on this. It is not worth the time and money of the people of this of state, and it's not worth the time and energy to get distracted off of this campaign."
She said the people of the state have been supportive of her this week.
"Everyone's been great," Haley said. "The calls coming into the office are overwhelmingly supportive. We can't get the yard signs out the door fast enough. The bumper-sticker requests are huge. The money's coming in strong.
"I am overwhelmed by the support that I and my family have received and the call from the people around this state wanting this to be about the issues and where we're going on June 8."
Haley has been getting a lot of TV and radio airtime this week. She is scheduled to be on WTMA-AM 1250 at 9 a.m. today.
She had been considered a dark horse in the race until recently. Haley picked up the endorsement of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and came out ahead in two recent polls.
The polls, which were conducted before Folks' alleged confession was made public on his blog, show Haley in the lead against the other GOP candidates, U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer and Attorney General Henry McMaster.
Reach Yvonne Wenger at 803-926-7855 or firstname.lastname@example.org.