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Republican candidate for South Carolina governor denies she had an affair

By Chris Cillizza
Tuesday, May 25, 2010; A07

A Republican candidate for South Carolina governor who has been endorsed by Jenny Sanford, the state's former first lady, and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin denied Monday that she had engaged in an affair several years ago, insisting that an allegation by a conservative blogger is an attempt to derail her rising campaign.

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

She said the timing of the "disgraceful smear" -- less than a week after a poll showed her leading the GOP field ahead of a June 8 primary -- is suspicious: "It is quite simply South Carolina politics at its worst."

Will Folks, a former press aide to disgraced South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R), wrote Monday on his Faith in the Sound blog, "Several years ago, prior to my marriage, I had an inappropriate physical relationship with Nikki."

He said he had decided to come forward with the alleged affair because Haley's political enemies were promising to make it public.

"This network of operatives has made it abundantly clear that in the process of 'taking down' Rep. Haley, they will also stop at nothing to humiliate me, destroy my family and take a sizable chunk out of the credibility this website has managed to amass for itself," Folks wrote.

He added that he would not provide further details or interviews about the alleged relationship.

Palin mocked Folks as lacking courage or integrity, and added in a statement on Facebook, "As I said to Nikki this morning, 'Hang in there. I've been there. Any lies told about you will strengthen your resolve to clean up political and media corruption. You and your supporters will grow stronger through things like this.' "

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