Page 4 of 5
The anti-Haley Republican
On Sept. 30, Dave Woodard stood in the Statehouse lobby and openly violated Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican. It was either an act of courage or political suicide.
Cyndi Mosteller, a former vice chair of the SCGOP, stood with him. The pair had serious concerns about Nikki Haley — her failure to file her taxes on time, her paychecks from Wilbur Smith and Lexington Medical, her refusal to release her e-mails and her hard drive, and her refusal to submit a signed affidavit saying she did not have a physical relationship with Will Folks and Larry Marchant.
While Woodard talked, a group of SCGOP bigwigs, including current Republican Party chair Karen Floyd and former head Katon Dawson, looked on, seemingly ready to give the anti-Haley duo a lashing once they stepped away from the podium.
The next day, Woodard was feeling beaten, but not broken, telling the City Paper, "I feel like Kyle Parker after the Auburn game but beat up all over."
Woodard and Mosteller's decision to break ranks and form Conservatives for Truth in Politics (TIP) has angered more than the SCGOP establishment. "I'd say that I lost about half the friends I had before yesterday," Woodard said. "It has not been a pleasant thing for me to do this."
During Floyd's speech following Woodard and Mosteller's time at the mic, the SCGOP head proclaimed that Palmetto State Republicans stood united. She was full of it. "You have two people over here who are not united," Woodard says. "But that's what they had to say. You could predict that. But if you listen to what they had to say, they were giving the party line and everything — this has all been talked about — but, of course, everything we were saying wasn't washed away by what they said."
Floyd also stated there was a simple reason why Mosteller and Woodard were speaking out, and it had nothing to do with the affair allegations, Haley's late taxes, or the candidate's failure to be transparent about her consulting income. "The status quo is scared, and it's simply lashing back," Floyd said, according to The Post and Courier.
The statement is laughable. Dawson is an establishment Republican who recently ran for the chairmanship of the national Republican Party, only to lose to Michael Steele. The reason: Word had gotten out that Dawson had been a member of an all-white country club. Meanwhile, as the leader of the state Republican Party, Floyd is not only a member of the status quo, she's an establishment queen.
The charge left Clemson University professor Woodard baffled. Neither he nor Mosteller, a Lowcountry resident, live anywhere near Columbia. "We're not part of the network. We don't know what goes on downtown there," he says. "How could we be looked at as the good ole boys trying to protect the establishment from some reformist governor?"
Woodard also claims that at the Statehouse he was approached by both Dawson and Floyd. "Karen told me about three times, I'm really disappointed," he alleges. Floyd did not respond to a request for an interview.
However, he also claims that an individual he can't name told him that he "may be right" when it comes to his belief that Haley is bad news. He adds, "You know what, I am right."
Woodard has his suspicions that even Floyd, Dawson, and the others defending Haley that day have their own doubts about the gubernatorial candidate.
"It reminded me of all the cabinet members defending Bill Clinton before the blue dress was found," Woodard says. "Their body language was saying something else. They know in their hearts that Dave Woodard and Cyndi Mosteller are raising the very questions they wished they had answers to."
At least one critic told Woodard that Haley had been vetted during the primary process, that all questions had been asked and addressed. Woodard disagrees. "A lot of these things, especially on the taxes and the consulting, came out after the primary," he says.
And indeed, Haley wasn't vetted during the primary process. For months, all attention had been focused on the two leaders in the race: Henry McMaster and Gresham Barrett. As for fellow contender Lt. Gov. André Bauer, the people had two terms to get to know him all too well. But Haley was the dark horse candidate, one who appeared to have no chance of winning. And so virtually no one paid her any attention. That was until ReformSC got involved and Sarah Palin rolled into town. It was only then that the virtually unknown Haley rose from last place in the polls to the lead.
Currently, Haley has seen her once commanding lead over her Democratic opponent Vincent Sheheen slip, dropping to nine points in one poll and four in another. With the race tightening — and bad press against Haley coming almost daily — one would think that Woodard's close friend and Tea Party kingmaker Sen. Jim DeMint would return to the state to throw his support behind the GOP candidate. After all, DeMint is actively campaigning for nearly every other Tea Party candidate across the nation. But when it comes to Haley, DeMint, a social conservative, has so far stayed away.
However, Woodard believes that when the time comes, DeMint will support Haley. Unfortunately, that time is fast approaching, if not slipping by. "He'll campaign with her. I have no doubt he will when he comes back. I don't think he's going to stand off from her," Woodard says.
As for why Haley won the primary and why SCGOP leaders like Floyd and Dawson still publicly support their party's gubernatorial nominee, Woodard points the finger at the media. They simply haven't done their job. "The Washington Post brought down the Nixon administration through Woodward and Bernstein because they were investigative reporters. We don't have press like that now because the whole structure of the newspaper business has changed," he says. "Now newspapers are half or a third the staff they were 10, 15 years ago. They don't have the resources to do that. They can't go out and do this."
He adds that in the past things were much different. "We had Lee Bandy [of The State] here. We had Dan Hoover [of The Greenville News.] These guys were experienced statewide reporters who had been in Washington and also in the state, and they were good. They performed a guardian function," he says. "They would not have let Nikki Haley not answer questions. They would have been pressing her for answers, and their newspapers would have been backing them."
Today, things are much different, and for Woodard, sadly so. He says, "I think that she or any other politician can get away with a lot more than they used to be able to."
But even if Haley gets elected, Woodard does not believe that Haley's woes, and ours too, will go away. "I remember what Sam Ervin said in the Watergate hearings right after they found the tapes," Woodard says. "He said, 'The truth, it always comes out. It always comes out.' And it will. It will come out. I've been watching this game for 30 years, and I've always seen it sneak out sometime."