(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.
Gotta love them Republican "family values"
So what? South Carolinians like their governors to have all sorts of sordid affairs. That's just the way things are in that bible belt state. The more sordid, the better.
I have relatives who live in South Carolina and I always thought it was such a boring State, but I have to admit these SC Republicans are the most scandalous people. Who knew? Family values? Sure you're right!!!!!
No doubt her affair was part of "God's Plan."
Boy Palin can sure pick em. Its hard to believe that Sanford had to go all the way to Argentina with this woman running around the state.
A lobbyist with a clear conscience? LOL.
And this is important why???
OH I forgot, this is the GOP, the family values crowd, LOL....
...actually I could care less that she had an affair or two...
...what scares me is that Palin endorses her, so you know she has to be up to nothing good.
Well – It's South Carolina – what would you expect?? And to think that she is another member of the party of family values!
Family values????? More Party of No hypocracy!
She is a woman of people, a real progressist and socialist. She knows how to take care of her people who are in need. She will bring the redistribution of wealth that SC has been missing.
I will definitely vote for her.
This has been established by two or three witnesses.........
Nikki I'll rather aim to mend broken fences with my husband and family than ran for public office. At least they will be forgiving, trust me.
This is getting ugly ... Haley denies it ... Palin denies it ... it must be true!
Good thing Sarah Palin threw her full support behind this bimbo. Yet another well-planned strategy by the GOP's presidential front-runner
Why would this guy even come forward?
A GOPer caught lying and cheating. This is not news. This is typical.
I don't know what is in the water in SC but their politicians are making ours in Georgia look like they're really not playing to win. We've only had a couple of illicit affairs reported this year by those pretending to be state leaders. GA pols – get busy or you'll be beaten by our near neighbors.
He wanted to "clear his conscience?' B.S.! He wanted to get his name out there. If he wanted to clear his conscience, he would do it to the people that it truly mattered to and to them only, and that would be his wife (assuming he has one). Airing out an affair in public does by no means qualify as "clearing one's conscience."
Regardless of what happens to her, at least she will not be spending time in Federal Prison like Barack, Rahm and Nancy will.
Welcome to the mudslinging, good ol' boys club that is South Carolina politics!
Larry Marchant should submit to a lie detector, in order to for his allegation to hold weight. I would be the best investment he could ever make.
Will Folks should do the same.
Well, now who is next?
What gets me here is the "shroud of infallibility" that wingers wrap around these folks. Ok. No proof yet? Continue to deny until it stops working. Forget about the affair. Look at ..."who has lobbied legislators on behalf of the insurance industry and the state Chamber of Commerce". Folks will glaze right over that part. Go slow now. Basically, paid to do away with health care so insurance companies could get richer, but taught you to say, "Obama is a socialist!! Kill Obamacare". That's a lie the right and baggers can believe in. By the way, that's 2 paramours. Sarah, will you distance yourself now or stand by your bud? I'll be waitin' for the whitewash on this one.
There it is – the sound of the other shoe hitting the floor.
Okay I'm a independent who leans left and even to me something about these claims do not sound right or honest
As always the good sex stories always come from the Republicant's. I thought their motto was the liberals are the sinners and they were all about family values. Maybe we need them to define what is family values to them as they seem to be in the news way more often than the liberal sinners or is it just a typical Republican case of double standard "do as I say not as I do".