House Ethics panel clears Haley again - FOX Carolina 21

House Ethics panel clears Haley again

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Members of the House Ethics Committee during Thursday's hearing. (June 28, 2012/Courtesy SCETV) Members of the House Ethics Committee during Thursday's hearing. (June 28, 2012/Courtesy SCETV)
COLUMBIA, SC (AP/FOX Carolina) -

The House Ethics Committee has cleared South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley of charges she illegally lobbied while a member of the House.

It represents the panel's second dismissal of the case in two months.

The committee vote Friday followed two hours of closed-door deliberations.

Haley said Thursday she did nothing wrong in her previous jobs as a fundraiser for Lexington Medical Center's nonprofit and as a consultant for engineering firm Wilbur Smith Associates. She was among 11 witnesses who testified.

Robert Ferrell, who worked for Wilbur Smith, said Haley was paid more than $48,000 in two years but never lobbied for the state farmers market or acted inappropriately.

Mike Biedeger, the CEO for Lexington Medical Center, took the stand as well and said Haley did nothing wrong while working with a nonprofit associated with the hospital. He said the hospital never asked her to help with legislation to expand the hospital, and she was strictly a fundraiser.

"Because of her personality and the number of people she knew, she was hired as a fundraiser and that is what she did," said Biedeger.

The Republican activist who brought the charges against the first-term Republican governor was subpoenaed but never called to testify. John Rainey was sequestered throughout the 12-hour hearing.

Following the dismissal, Haley released the following statement:

"The Ethics Committee did its job thoroughly, professionally, and well. It's just a shame that our judicial and legislative bodies have had to waste so much of their time on phony political charges that never had any evidence behind them or any basis in fact. Despite these attempts at political distraction, I'm pleased that our administration continues to stay focused on what matters, bringing in record new job announcements, cutting taxes for small businesses and reforming state government."

This was not the first ethics investigation of Haley. The House Ethics Committee voted 5-1 on May 2 to dismiss all charges against the governor, following a review that began in March. They reopened the case four weeks later.

The complaint stemmed from a lawsuit by GOP activist John Rainey accusing Haley of violating ethics rules. A Circuit Court judge dismissed the lawsuit in March, saying such ethics issues are not a judicial matter.

Copyright 2012 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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