(CNN) - A well-connected South Carolina lobbyist and political consultant claimed Wednesday that he had a one night stand with gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley – making him the second man to allege an affair with the frontrunner for the Republican nomination.
Larry Marchant, a familiar face at the South Carolina State House who has lobbied legislators on behalf of the insurance industry and the state Chamber of Commerce, told CNN he had a “one night, one night only” sexual relationship with Haley at a school choice conference held in Salt Lake City, Utah in 2008.
Marchant offered no specific evidence of the affair and the Haley campaign forcefully rejected the latest accusation.
“I just wanted to tell the truth,” Marchant told CNN in a telephone interview. “She can deny it. Let the people decide. I know what happened, and my conscience is clear.”
Marchant said he and Haley, a state Representative, grew “very close” in 2008 when she served on the House insurance subcommittee and he was chief lobbyist for the insurance industry. Both Marchant and Haley are married with children.
“This was nothing more than two political colleagues who work very closely together for many years having one inappropriate relationship,” he said.
In an article published in the Financial Times Tuesday, BP CEO Tony Hayward admitted that his company had not been fully prepared to deal with a deepwater oil leak like the one it is now contending with in the Gulf of Mexico. “’What is undoubtedly true is that we did not have the tools you would want in your tool-kit,’” Hayward told the British newspaper.
Asked about Hayward’s comments on CNN’s John King, USA, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said that BP should have never been allowed to drill at depths like those of the gushing well, located some 5,000 feet below the sea’s surface.
“Well, what it tells you is they shouldn't have been doing it in the first place, in my opinion,” Crist said of Hayward’s admission. “I think that, you know, if you didn't have backup plans, if you weren't prepared, if you didn't have the tools necessary to stop something like this once it began, then you shouldn't have been doing it from the get go. And so that begs the question, why were they doing it? How did this come to pass? And we've got to put a stop to it.”
Asked by CNN Chief National Correspondent John King whether he trusts BP, the Florida governor equivocated.
Washington (CNN) – Former Attorney General John Ashcroft suggested Wednesday that the Obama administration’s criminal investigation into the circumstances that led to the Gulf oil spill should have come sooner than it did.
Almost six weeks after the initial explosion on the oil rig Deepwater Horizon, the Justice Department announced Tuesday it had launched a criminal and civil investigation into the oil spill.
Asked during an appearance at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, whether he thought the investigations or the timing of the announcement were politically motivated, Ashcroft said he didn’t know “enough facts and circumstances” to comment. But the former head of the Justice Department went on to say, “If someone ever commits a crime against me or my family I would hope that in something less than five weeks they would decide to investigate it.”
Ashcroft also criticized the Obama administration’s decision to close the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba where a number of suspected terrorists have been held by the federal government.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Barack Obama on Wednesday ordered executive-branch agencies to extend to employees' same-sex partners the same benefits provided to their opposite-sex partners, to the extent allowed by law.
The move followed up on Obama's memorandum last year that extended some benefits to same-sex partners of government workers and ordered federal agencies to review additional benefits that also could be available under existing laws.
"That process has now concluded, and I am proud to announce that earlier today, I signed a memorandum that requires executive agencies to take immediate action to extend to the same-sex domestic partners of federal employees a number of meaningful benefits, from family assistance services to hardship transfers to relocation expenses," Obama said in a statement.
(CNN) – The White House has ordered BP to fully fund Louisiana's plan to dredge up walls of sand to protect coastal marshes from the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal announced Wednesday.
The news comes about a week after the federal government approved one segment of the plan on a trial basis. But U.S. officials raised concerns about the long-term environmental effects of what would effectively amount to building dozens of miles of new barrier islands off Louisiana.
"We have just received word from the White House that they are going to require BP to fund the five remaining segments," Jindal said to applause in an announcement amid a news conference.
Louisiana officials have lobbied hard for their plan for weeks as brown sludge from BP's ruptured undersea well seeped into marshlands around the mouth of the Mississippi River. State and federal officials huddled Tuesday with Adm. Thad Allen, the Obama administration's point man for the spill response, and Allen had promised to send his recommendation to the White House within a day.
Carville said he had a chance meeting Tuesday night with BP CEO Tony Hayward at the popular New Orleans restaurant "Eleven 79." Hayward was dining with former Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen, Carville said in an interview that aired Wednesday on "The Situation Room."
Carville, a native Louisianan, has been critical of BP's response to the Gulf oil spill.
Related: Obama needs to tell BP 'I'm your daddy,' Carville says
Carville, a CNN contributor, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that the unexpected encounter was "polite" and "tense."
Hayward "asked me, he says 'What can I do? You've said some pretty harsh things about BP. What can we do to show you that we want to do right?'"
Carville, never one to hold his tongue, said that he responded by telling Hayward that "'in all honesty, I don't trust you.'"
(CNN) – The White House has ordered BP to fund Louisiana's plan to dredge up walls of sand along its coast to head off the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal announced Wednesday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, called Wednesday on President Barack Obama "to call Israel to an accounting" for its attack Monday on a Turkish ship that was traveling in international waters laden with humanitarian goods for Gaza.
Israel's conduct "constitutes an act of belligerence against Turkey, which at one time Israel considered an important ally," the Ohio Democrat wrote. "It also undermines United States' troops efforts in Iraq, since your administration's efforts to achieve stability in the region and to withdraw troops from Iraq has depended upon Turkey's cooperation through use of its air bases."
He called for the United States to "begin to redefine its relationship" with Israel and for Israel to face diplomatic and financial consequences for the attack, which killed nine people.
"If our nation fails to act in any substantive way, the United States licenses the violence and we are complicit in it and our own citizens will be forced to pay the consequences," he wrote.
Washington (CNN) – He was succeeded in the White House by the most web savvy administration in U.S. history, but that has not stopped former President George W. Bush from joining Facebook.
The office of the 43rd President recently established an official presence on the popular social networking site, CNN has confirmed.
"Our office hears from citizens all the time: 'How's President Bush? What's he up to? Please tell him thank you for his service,'" Bush spokesman David Sherzer told CNN in an email. "President Bush is grateful for all of these kind messages. A Facebook fan page is the ideal forum on which to keep people up to date on what the former president is doing."
The former president has nearly 30,000 Facebook fans connected to his Facebook page which is located at www.facebook.com/georgewbush.
The George W. Presidential Center also recently joined microblogging site Twitter (@GWBPresCenter) where Bush's office currently has just 50 followers.
Washington (CNN) - House Republicans are demanding the White House turn over internal documents related to its efforts last year to persuade Rep. Joe Sestak to stay out of a Democratic primary battle in Pennsylvania with Sen. Arlen Specter, in exchange for a government job.
Unhappy with the White House explanation of the matter, Reps. Darrell Issa of California and Lamar Smith of Texas, the top Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent a letter Wednesday to White House Counsel Robert Bauer requesting "All records and documents created by or produced to the Office of the White House Counsel in the course of the investigation..."
Last Friday, Bauer released a memorandum revealing White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had enlisted the help of former President Bill Clinton to offer to Sestak an unpaid position on a Presidential advisory board. Bauer concluded "allegations of improper conduct rest on factual errors and lack a basis in the law."
Issa and Smith, in their letter, disagreed.
"Even if we suspend our disbelief that the White House asked a former U.S. President to call on a Member of Congress to offer a mere unpaid advisory position in exchange for dropping out of a Senate race, the facts alleged in the Sestak Memorandum still appear to violate several sections of the United States Code," wrote the Republican congressmen.