Conservative blogger Will Folks posted today on his site FITSNews.com that he had "become the primary target of a group that will apparently stop at nothing to destroy the one S.C. gubernatorial candidate who, in my opinion, would most consistently advance the ideals I believe in" — current South Carolina Representative Haley. He claimed this destruction would include the leaking of stories about himself and Haley, which he decided to pre-empt thusly: "Several years ago, prior to my marriage, I had an inappropriate physical relationship with Nikki."
Folks adds that "I will not be discussing the details of that relationship, nor will I be granting any additional interviews about it to members of the media beyond what I have already been compelled to confirm" — meaning, as the AP points out, that he offered "no proof of a relationship." And Haley herself completely denies the allegations, calling them a "disgraceful smear" and asserting,
I have been 100 percent faithful to my husband throughout our 13 years of marriage. This claim against me is categorically and totally false. It is quite simply South Carolina politics at its worst.
As David Kurtz of Talking Points Memo notes, it's not clear why Folks would want to smear Haley, given that he apparently supports her and has written approvingly of her "surging popularity" in the past (he was also apparently on Haley's campaign payroll, which potentially raises the possibility of an Edwards-style investigation). But, writes Kurtz, "this is South Carolina, so just because it stands to reason doesn't make it so." Adding to the weirdness of Palmetto politics is the fact that Folks is a former spokesman for another famous philanderer, epistolary genius Mark Sanford. And Folks had some rather nasty things to say about Jenny Sanford's August 2009 Vogue profile:
When S.C. First Lady Jenny Sanford struck a pose for Vogue last August (less than two months after her husband's rambling confession of infidelity), it was obvious to anyone reading between the stems … err lines … that she was "single and looking to mingle."
While Folks was speculating about what went on between Jenny Sanford's "stems," the soon-to-be ex-Mrs. Sanford was campaigning with Haley, adding yet another weird wrinkle to an already convoluted story. Oh, and Sarah Palin has endorsed Haley too! The "mama grizzly" roars on Haley's behalf, "South Carolina: don't let some blogger make any accusation against your Nikki if the guy doesn't even have the guts or the integrity to speak further on such a significant claim."
At this point it's pretty impossible to figure out who's telling the truth, but the speculation about Haley's sex life does show that female politicians aren't immune to such scandals. She's not alone — earlier this year, a Northern Irish Member of Parliament named Mrs. Robinson made headlines for her affair with a teenage boy. And Carla Bruni's been the target of infidelity rumors, though she's not a politician herself. The relative dearth of sex scandals involving women in politics has inspired many explanations, from "women are too busy taking care of children" to "men aren't attracted to powerful women." But perhaps the easiest explanation is simply that, as Julia Baird pointed out in Newsweek back in 2008, there just haven't been that many female politicians "prominent enough to attract savage media scrutiny." Maybe, for better or for worse, that's changing.
SC Governor Hopeful Denies Blogger Claim Of Affair [AP, via Traverse City Record-Eagle]
I Did Not Have Sexual Relations With That Man! [Talking Points Memo]
Will Folks: Letting The Chips Fall [FITSNews.com]
Palin Defends Haley [Politico]
Earlier: Where Are The Female Philanderers?
Female Politicians Don't Cheat Because They're Mommies
Female Pols Have Fewer Sex Scandals Because Men Don't Find Female Power Erotic
Carla Bruni Flips The Script On Infidelity Rumors