S.C. GOP gubernatorial candidate denies affair allegation

A Republican candidate for South Carolina governor condemned allegations she'd had an affair with a conservative political blogger.

State Rep. Nikki Haley (R), who is considered a rising star in the GOP and favored by conservatives in the gubernatorial race, condemned a claim by South Carolina blogger Will Folks that he had "an inappropriate physical relationship" with her.

"I have been 100% faithful to my husband throughout our 13 years of marriage," Haley said Monday in a statement. "This claim against me is categorically and totally false."

The claim by Folks comes as Haley's Republican primary campaign is picking up traction, with polls showing her surging ahead of competitors in the GOP field. Most notably, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) had traveled to South Carolina to campaign for Haley, and she had been endorsed by the state's former first lady, Jenny Sanford.

Haley tied her recent momentum to Folks's claim.

"It is sad, but not surprising, that this disgraceful smear has taken form less than a week removed from the release of a poll showing our campaign with a significant lead," she said. "It is quite simply South Carolina politics at its worst."

Folks is a former spokesman for South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R). Folks resigned his position in that office after pleading guilty in 2005 to criminal domestic violence, after which he started an influential political blog. He posted claims of the affair on his blog Monday morning.

Folks justified making public his allegations because, he said, other media outlets were preparing to report on it.

"I refuse to play that game," he wrote. "I refuse to have someone hold the political equivalent of a switch-blade in front of my face and just sit there and watch as they cut me to pieces."