In more trouble for Indian- American Nikki Haley, who hopes to become South Carolina's first woman Governor, a political lobbyist on Thursday claimed he had a tryst with the Republican candidate, who is already facing allegations of an extra-marital affair.
However, 38-year-old Haley's campaign rejected it as "a false and outrageous desperate attack from a losing candidate's paid campaign consultant in the final week of the race."
Larry Merchant, 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. However, he did not have any specific evidence to prove his point.
He is the second individual to make such a claim, both of which has been dismissed by Haley's campaign. In fact, her popularity rating has increased.
CNN reported that 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," Haley campaign manager Tim Pearson was quoted as saying.
The 38-year-old mother of two, whose husband is a US Army reserves officer, has been hit by allegations that she had a "physical" relationship with commentator Will Folks. If elected, she would be only the second governor of Indian origin in the US after Louisiana's Bobby Jindal.
Meanwhile, the Republican Indian Committee has endorsed the candidature of Nikki Haley. Haley, whose parents hail from Amritsar in Punjab, is a current member of the South Carolina House of Representatives and is strongly backed by Republican heavyweight Sarah Palin.
"In response to the overwhelming support and enthusiasm of Indian American Republicans nationwide, the Republican Indian Committee is proud to endorse one of our own, South Carolina State Representative Nikki Haley, in the race for the Republican nomination for Governor of South Carolina," the committee said in a statement.
It said Haley can lead her state back to economic prosperity and deliver accountability and transparency in State government. "She just happens to be an Indian American and so we are proud of her," said Puneet Ahluwalia, its executive director. PTI