COLUMBIA — A group of Republican activists opposed to Gov. Nikki Haley will run an ad Saturday during the USC-Clemson match-up that accuses the GOP governor of a backroom deal.
Conservatives for Truth In Politics, which tried to derail Haley’s campaign bid, announced Wednesday the statewide television ad with allegations that the governor helped Georgia secure a permit for the Savannah port dredging from a South Carolina environmental board.
Haley has repeatedly denied the allegations, although her office did not immediately respond to a question for comment about the ad.
The ad will run during the football game between the University of South Carolina and Clemson University and it will continue into next week.
“Governor Haley’s actions are both bizarre and unexplainable,” Conservatives for Truth In Politics Executive Director Liana Orr said in a statement. “It’s an attack on South Carolina’s economy and our workers. Haley needs to come clean about her dealings with Savannah Port officials as well as other Georgia elected officials”
Haley has said she stands behind the state Department of Health and Environmental Control board. She controls the board’s appointments and four of the six members are campaign contributors.
“I without question know that the Charleston port will be the most successful port in the Southeast,” the governor said last week. “If we are scared of a 48-foot Savannah, 36 miles up the river, just because we don’t want to compete, we’ve got a problem.”
Haley has called a press conference at the Statehouse for Monday to discuss the situation.
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, came to Haley's defense by acknowledging her commitment to the Charleston port.
"Governor Haley has been a constructive force helping build the coalitions we need to move toward a deeper Charleston Harbor," Graham said in a statement. "This is a vital issue for the economy of South Carolina, as one in every five jobs in our state is tied directly or indirectly to operations at the port.
"I appreciate her work as she knows, as well as I do, that when it comes to deepening Charleston Harbor, failure is simply not an option. She's been an invaluable partner in this endeavor."
Matt Moore, executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party, dismissed the ad.
"This group is about as irrelevant as they get," Moore said. "I would be surprised if any TV station runs this sort of libelous garbage."