COLUMBIA — South Carolina’s highest court is considering the appeal of a Republican activist whose ethics complaints against Gov. Nikki Haley have wound through the state’s legislative and judicial systems but so far have been found to be without merit.
The state Supreme Court today plans to hear the case of John Rainey, a longtime GOP activist who sued Haley in 2011. Rainey said that Haley, while a GOP House member representing Lexington, had done improper lobbying while also working as a hospital fundraiser and in business development for a highway engineering firm.
The complaint also asked whether it was illegal for Haley to seek tens of thousands of dollars from lobbyists for the hospital’s foundation while legislators were in session.
But a circuit judge threw out Rainey’s case last year, saying such issues weren’t up to a court to decide and instead should be handled by the House Ethics Committee. Rainey appealed that decision but also filed a parallel complaint with the House panel, which is empowered by state law to investigate complaints against that chamber’s members.
The panel initially dismissed the complaint but later reopened it and held hearings last summer in its first-ever inquiry into a sitting governor.