In a surprise testimony, South Carolina's Indian-American governor Nikki Haley has hit out at a fellow Republican, who has accused her of ethics violations, calling him a "a racist, sexist bigot". Haley, 40, told the six-member House Ethics Committee that Republican activist John Rainey "has tried everything in his power to hurt me and my family."
Haley's outburst on Thursday came after an executive testified that a Columbia engineering firm paid then-state representative Haley, a Lexington County Republican, USD 48,000 over almost two years as a "passive" consultant to scout out new business, but Haley turned up no new work."
In her surprise testimony, Haley repeated a story she has told before in her memoir and to the media "that her accuser, Camden businessman and attorney Rainey, is a bigot," the thestate.com reported.
Haley said in her only meeting with him, while she was running for governor, Rainey was "demanding" and "demeaning", and she told her staff she did not want any campaign contributions from him.
"Mr. Rainey is a racist, sexist bigot who has tried everything in his power to hurt me and my family," Haley said.
"He came in and was demeaning and he was demanding and basically said that he wanted me to prove certain things so that if I took the oath, they wouldn't find out later that my family was related to terrorists."
"I'm still very offended by that," she said.
Haley said she did not pressure lobbyists or their clients to give money to the Lexington Medical Center Foundation, where she was a USD 110,000-a-year fundraiser.
Haley said she also did not lobby on behalf of Lexington Medical as it fought to get state approval for a heart-surgery centre, or for the Columbia-based Wilbur Smith Associates engineering firm, where she was paid USD 48,000 to win new work.
"I just want the truth out there," Haley said. "I know exactly what my frame of mind was. I know exactly what actions I took. I know the situations that were at hand".
"I have done nothing wrong. I've done nothing wrong," she said.
Rainey, who has accused her of illegally lobbying on behalf of a hospital and an engineering firm while she was a House member from 2005 to 2010, declined to comment, the website reported.
Haley was born into a Sikh immigrant family from Amristar in Punjab. Haley is the first woman to serve as governor of South Carolina, and at the age of 40, Haley is the youngest current governor in the US.