[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/05/24/art.nikki.haley.youtube.jpg caption ="South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley defended herself against charges of hypocrisy Tuesday."]Columbia, South Carolina (CNN) - On the same day Republican voters in South Carolina head to the polls to tap their nominee for governor, frontrunner Nikki Haley defended herself against charges of hypocrisy after her campaign revealed that she earned more than $40,000 doing consulting work for one of the state's largest engineering firms while also serving in the state legislature.
"Everything I have done has been on board," Haley told reporters after casting her ballot in Lexington County. "I have been in compliance with all of the rules. The ethics committee has said there will be no conflicts of interest. I don't see what the problem is."
Though Haley is expected to cruise to comfortable win in Tuesday's runoff election, the campaign of her opponent, Rep. Gresham Barrett, has launched a late offensive to highlight the consulting work, which Haley failed to disclose on state ethics filings.
Barrett's team accused Haley of hiding the income until the Monday evening before election day, when reporters were shown her tax records from 2007 and 2008, to avoid public scrutiny. They also say Haley's work "raises a strong appearance of impropriety" because the engineering firm, Wilbur Smith Associates, has sought government contracts. The firm said Haley was hired because of her "connections" and "access" to influential people.
Haley called the Barrett claims "comical" and said she recused herself from budget votes involving the company. She stressed that her time in the legislature, which began in 2005, has been a learning experience and said she came to realize the importance of government transparency over time.
"I see a wrong, and that is that I think that legislators should start to disclose their income, and I am going to make it right," she said.
The Indian-American Haley, who would be the state's first female governor if elected in November, also dismissed Beltway chatter about her rising national profile. But she also promised to make South Carolina a model of conservative governance that other states should look to.
"Whether it's positive or it's negative, it's distractions," she said. "What I really want to focus on is showing every state in the country what good conservative policy looks like, showing every state in the country what pro-business policies look like. And then dealing with D.C. and the fact that it's gotten too intrusive, and we need them to push back out."