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Funderburk part of inquest into governor

Posted: June 8, 2012 6:01 p.m.
Updated: June 11, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Local S.C. State House Rep. Laurie Funderburk is one of six state legislators tasked with hearing testimony in an ethics case against Gov. Nikki Haley.

Funderburk, first elected to the House in 2004, sits on the House Ethics Committee assigned with investigating claims that Haley illegally lobbied for two companies during her time as a State House representative.

A sitting governor has never been the subject of an ethics investigation in the S.C. House. Haley’s case is being heard by House members since the allegations against her stem from her time as a state representative.

The inquiry began following a complaint filed March 19 by John Rainey, a Camden resident and Republican fundraiser. Rainey charged that Haley illegally lobbied for Lexington Medical Center and Columbia engineering firm Wilbur Smith while she was a state legislator.

The House Ethics Committee voted unanimously May 2 that there was probable cause to investigate the case against Haley, but then immediately dismissed the charges on a 5-1 vote.

Funderburk, the lone Democrat on the committee, was the only member to vote against dismissal.

The back-to-back votes by the committee brought an appeal from Rainey as well as a resolution by Columbia Democratic Rep. James Smith requesting the committee reconsider its dismissal. Smith’s resolution, introduced in the House May 15, stated that the allegations against Haley should not be “treated lightly or hastily dismissed without a full and complete vetting of the facts.”

Smith consequently requested the claims be further investigated by the ethics committee.  

On May 18, the committee responded to Smith’s request to reopen the case and asked Haley’s office to provide additional documentation concerning her employment with the two businesses. 

In an interview Thursday, Funderburk said the committee agreed with Smith’s call to reopen the investigation.   

“I didn’t believe we had enough information that we needed, especially after finding probable cause. According to our rules, after finding probable cause, it should have gone to a hearing,” Funderburk said.

She explained the decision to reopen the case was not pushed by any one particular committee member.

“We’re just trying to make sure the process works,” she said.

After the committee’s May 18 meeting, Funderburk sent a letter to Ethics Committee Chairman Roland Smith requesting the hearing involve sworn testimony.

“I believe that sworn testimony is the only way that the committee will be able to resolve any ambiguities or ascertain specific information that will help us make informed decisions regarding the ethics allegations involving Gov. Haley,” she stated in the letter. 

The hearing against Haley is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. June 28 in the Blatt Building at the S.C. State House. Members of the committee will be allowed to ask questions according to the rules and procedures outlined for the hearing.

The committee hearing will be open to the media and the public.

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