Nikki Haley campaign manager Tim Pearson has confirmed to CNN that the texts posted by blogger Will Folks, in which the two seem to discuss how to squelch media interest in a relationship between Haley and Folks, are authentic.
But Pearson told CNN he was merely trying to beat back “false rumors” from appearing in the press. He continued:
“This blogger’s overactive imagination has gone into overdrive,” Pearson said in an e-mail to CNN. “South Carolina politics is full of rumors and innuendo, and of course our campaign did everything in our power to prevent false rumors about Nikki from airing out in the media as they now have.
“Every campaign would have done exactly the same thing,” he added. “As always, Nikki is determined to keep this campaign focused on the people and issues that matter.
In the texts, most of which are from about 10 days ago, Pearson presses Folks for information about whether various local reporters are looking into what Folks calls at one point, “the me/nikki rumor.” But at times Pearson uses language that suggests the topic under discussion is something beyond a rumor.
When Folks told Pearson May 14 that another political operative was “shopping an affidavit,” Pearson responds one minute late: “Ah. My initial thought is if it aint from you or nh [Nikki Haley] then its a tough sell.”
The next day Pearson says: “I think we both deny it. I think an affadavit is something we can beat down. Legally and politically.” A minute later Pearson texts “I’m telling you man, we keep this under wraps and nh is going to win.”
On May 22, Pearson texts Folks, appearing to say he can’t talk when in the presence of Haley and her husband Michael: “Ok. Call me as soon as you can. I’m with michael and nikki so as soon as I’m back in the car I can’t talk. Need to chat before she sees davenport.”