Nikki Haley Cleared By IRS, No Longer Under Investigation
Reports that Nikki Haley might be indicted stemming from a tax fraud investigation are not true.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s office Friday provided IRS documentation that she is not facing investigation for tax fraud, calling accusations that she was “totally contrived.”
Haley denied the rumors of a looming tax indictment on Thursday. The rumors were based on an anonymously sourced blog post alleging that the Internal Revenue Service was investigating possible tax fraud at a Sikh center where the governor’s parents are top officials. The Palmetto Public Record claimed Haley managed the temple’s finances as recently as 2003 and implicated her in a failure by the temple to pay contractors. The governor denied keeping the books for the church.
Haley’s office provided The Hill a copy of the letter from the IRS to the Sikh temple that finds no investigation was warranted.”After further consideration of your organization, we have determined that an investigation is not warranted at this time for the above tax period,” the letter states.
“As we said from the very beginning, there was not an ounce of truth to any of these accusations – they were totally contrived, totally false, and it is a tremendous shame that once again the good names of the governor and her family were dragged through the mud by a media all too eager to believe anonymous sources and unaccountable bloggers,” said Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey.
Good news for Haley, who was seen as a rising star in Republican politics after her big win in 2010.
UPDATE: The Palmetto Public Record, the blog which published the original report, stands by it.
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past 36 hours, Palmetto Public Record reported yesterday afternoon that three independent sources told us South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley could soon be indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice. As part of our reporting of the statements, we shared all the documents we could find connected to an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service into the finances of a Sikh temple run by Gov. Haley’s father.
We released the 2011 IRS letter informing temple officials that federal investigators intended to look into the group’s financial dealings, requesting documents and scheduling a meeting at the temple last spring. We also posted evidence that the group openly supported Haley’s 2010 campaign for governor, which would have been a violation of its tax-exempt status as a religious nonprofit.
Yesterday afternoon, we told you about five lawsuits filed against the temple by contractors alleging they’d been stiffed out of nearly $130,000 in the construction of a new temple that still hasn’t been built. The temple was supposed to be paid for by a $750,000 loan (taken out with the help of a bank president later rewarded by the governor with a political appointment), leaving us with one underlying question: what happened to the money?
Gov. Haley took to Facebook late last night to accuse us of lying, even though everything we posted was either public record or reliably-obtained documents — none of which have been challenged as untrue — or chatter which anyone even reasonably connected to this notoriously corrupt state will tell you is widespread among South Carolina’s political class.
Late Friday afternoon, the governor’s office released a letter from Eric Hall of the IRS’ legislative affairs office stating that the agency closed its inquiry last fall after finding nothing meriting further investigation (a hat tip to Stephen Largen of the Post & Courier for making it public, and we gladly would have printed it earlier if the governor’s office sent it to us).
We would like to note that dozens of reporters and observers have parsed — many incorrectly — our words regarding what Palmetto Public Record heard and wrote about a possible indictment. Given the furor which gripped many who followed our story, everyone from close friends to national reporters have been asking for comment, so here it is:
We’re glad the IRS stated today that they apparently found nothing untoward regarding the temple’s finances, and we’re glad (as Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey says) the lengthy chapter regarding Gov. Haley’s involvement seems to be closed. Since no normal person would have been able to get the IRS to send them such a letter within a day of these questions hitting the blogosphere, and since the IRS certainly didn’t answer our phone calls, the only way to get an answer to our questions was by taking them to the public.
The tone is rather strident but the overall analysis strikes me as reasonable. That it, Haley is a public figure and there were real questions being raised in the public sphere on which they reported. They did so, it should be noted, as an outlet hostile to Haley and to Republicans in general. But muckraking by partisan journalists is how a lot of truth gets uncovered and into the mainstream conversation.
Indeed, my only complaint about The Palmetto Public Record’s coverage here is the headline, “About Last Night…” Considering that the earlier stories were titled things like “Haley indictment imminent? Stay tuned…” and “Nikki Haley and the Temple Loan: Where did the money go?” it would have been appropriate to headline the piece something along the lines of OTB’s “Nikki Haley Cleared By IRS, No Longer Under Investigation.” That way, someone skimming the blog would get the full impact of the development.