(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.
Until this week, Marchant was also a top campaign adviser to Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer – one of Haley’s three rivals in the Republican gubernatorial primary.
Campaign finance records show that Bauer's campaign has paid Marchant’s political consulting firm more than $50,000 in the past year.
Bauer’s campaign fired Marchant on Wednesday for what it deemed “inappropriate conduct,” and Marchant made the allegation shortly after news of his dismissal became public.
Marchant said he revealed the relationship to his pregnant wife last week after conservative blogger Will Folks made his own claim, without proof, that he had an “inappropriate physical relationship” with Haley in 2007. He said he informed Bauer “at the end of last week” after reporters began chasing rumors about the alleged tryst.
Haley’s campaign rejected Marchant’s allegation as “a false and outrageous desperate attack from a losing candidate's paid campaign consultant in the final week of the race.”
“As Nikki Haley rises in the polls, the good old boys in Columbia see their taxpayer-funded fraternity party coming crumbling down, and they will say or do anything to hold onto their power,” said Haley campaign manager Tim Pearson. “This is South Carolina politics at its worst. The people of our state deserve better, and when Nikki Haley is Governor, they'll get it."
Haley’s campaign questioned Marchant’s credibility, pointing out his financial stake in the Bauer campaign and his arrest in Columbia last December on DUI charges.
Marchant said he has had “very little contact” with Haley since she announced her gubernatorial bid last year. He did say, however, that he sent her a text message after Folks made his accusation last week “saying I thought she handled it very well.”
Along with Haley and Bauer, Attorney General Henry McMaster and Rep. Gresham Barrett are also seeking the GOP gubernatorial nod.
An adviser to the Barrett campaign, which last week denied pushing rumors about Haley and Folks, sent a wire story about Marchant's allegation to reporters shortly after the news broke Wednesday.
maybe its her technique
LOL. This chick gets around.
This gets better by the day.
Hey, Nikki Haley is just doing what every candidate for public office does - gathers voter support one person at a time. It's just that, by her method, she does it on her back and not on her feet.
But she can try to win MY support. I might want to . . . move to South Carolina . . . where a "liberal" is someone with less than three Rebel battle flags on his pickup truck . . .and, um, I MIGHT consider voting for you, Nikki. Let's discuss your, um, platform.
Typical, ugly smear tactics.
Wow... Now the left-wing Media (CNN) is basing fact on the word of a lobbyist! BRILLIANT!
The "Tea Party" and Sarah Palin and all of her followers are the BEST THING TO HAPPEN TO PROGRESSIVE POLITICS in this country since FDR.
I LOVE THIS!!!!
More GOP scandals...are we really gonna put these people back into power in November? If we do we are fools...
Oh Dear Nikki,
It's okay honey! If Palin says it isn't true everything will be all right and you can sleep comfortable on the couch.
This Congressman is indeed an idiot. This reeks of political desperation and is yet another stain on South Carolina.
These people make me sick.
Keep them closed Nikki, at least till the primary.
You gotta love those "strict," Conservative... and hypocritical GOP Family Values.
Haley just might be the female version of Wilt Chamberlain!
And more will be revealed! She's following in the footsteps of other South Carolina governors. He got away with it-–. Maybe she thinks she can too!
And now she will babble more about her relationship with "God", of course.
That is what they do.
MORE!!!! of those good ole republican "family values". Well , at least it wasn't a lesbian affair (HORRORS!!!) Republican: The Party of Duplicity
Another member of the Moralist Party exposed.
What is the problem? All political candidates, all elected officials, all screw their constituents. So what is the problem if they screw around on their wife or husband? Go ahead, elect Haley, she can end up on SNL with Sarah Palin. You just have to love politics. This stuff beats anything on television.
You can tell by her excessively white teeth that she's out for a little on the side.
...... but but but but .....
SC is the state that PURIFIES all the "family values" [fake] christians that want to run the country (further into the ground).
My My Nikki – almost as "busy" as your BFF Sarah – ha ha ha ha ha ha
Tch tch tch Nikki, and you a Republican the Party with "values". We know what your right-wing-extremist "values" are toots. Now you can add your name to the growing list of Republican hypocrits that have been caught in their web of deceit.
I don't really care about her infidelity. But sleeping with a lobbyist? While she was an elected representative? I wonder how well the insurance industry made out in S.C.?
Why would a man publicly come forward now about an affair with a woman from 2008 when he is married and has a wife thats pregnant. I think there is lobbying going on to derail this poor woman's campaign.
Funny that CNN features a no-name GOP hopeful scandal while the Romanoff-Sestak/White house bribery case is breaking wide open. I will go elsewhere for someone to cover the story. Oh, and in case you are wondering CNN, this is why I as well as millions of others stopped watching you. Give me the news, not your propaganda!
And Palin supports her?? That makes the them dumbo and bimbo The names are interchangeable.