Gov. Haley will not be indicted for tax fraud

Rick Moran
My face is a little red this morning having printed what we now know is a false story about the imminent indictment of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley for tax fraud relating to the construction of a Sikh temple involving her family.

I'm not the only one with egg on my face this morning. Most major media outlets picked up the Palmetto Public Record report, supposedly sourced by three independent government officials, about the coming indictment of Haley.

It turns out, the IRS wrote a letter to the Sikh organization that was building the temple, telling them they were not the target of an investigation after all. The letter was sent last fall.

The Hill:

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.

The Public Record alleged that an investigation into possible wrong doing had been ongoing since March 2011. According to the IRS, the letter was sent in late September or early October.

"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.

The PPR, in a post this morning, fails to retract the story and basically says that they printed a lie, but it's not their fault:

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.

Apparently, it is Governor Haley's fault that the PPR printed a lie. The proprietor of the blog, Logan Smith, fails to mention that his "sources" were dead wrong, that the story was, in essence, a lie, and that he owes his readers - if not Governor Haley - an apology.

His exact words from the blog post informing us that Haley was to be indicted:

Two well-placed legal experts have independently told Palmetto Public Record they expect the U.S. Department of Justice to issue an indictment against South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley on charges of tax fraud as early as this week.

This is false information. And nowhere in the explanatory post from this morning does Mr. Smith acknowledge that he made a mistake in publishing it.

No need to "parse" anything. The statement is incorrect. Smith chooses to muddy the waters by writing that PPR published all sorts of documents - unrelated to the imminent indictment of Haley - that were a matter of public record and are true. The fact that those documents were related to the Sikh temple - an organization that Haley has never been responsible for keeping records or writing checks - is significant because Smith accused Haley of keeping the temple's books:

"There has been a great deal of chatter lately regarding a federal investigation of the Sikh worship center run by Gov. Nikki Haley's father, Dr. Ajit Randhawa. Speculation on the probe's target has run anywhere from delinquent taxes to money laundering and tax fraud, with varying accounts of the governor's own involvement in the temple's shady finances."

This is a smear. As is this:

Gov. Haley is reported to have managed the temple's finances as late as 2003, and our sources believe any indictment would center on what happened to the missing money.

Haley denies having had anything to do with financial recordkeeping for the temple:

"I was never an accountant for the temple," Haley said.  "I have nothing to do with the temple. My dad and the Indian community started the temple, not him. There is no truth. I never did a deposit. I never wrote a check. I never touched the books. I never had anything to do with it.

Smith didn't bother to acknowledge his error in hinting at Haley's involvement in temple finances.

To be fair, here is the entire Logan Smith statement on the matter:

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 IRS said yesterday they wouldn't comment on any possible investigations, and then said they couldn't discuss it with anyone not directly tied to the investigation. For a person who told ABC News there was never any investigation to begin with, the IRS certainly sent Gov. Haley's chief of staff a letter quickly regarding a situation from which she claims to be so distant.

Nevertheless, today's letter should have been a refreshingly transparent development -- certainly a change from how Gov. Haley's office has conducted business in the past. We welcome the transparency of the governor's office sharing her correspondence, and hope that the release of this IRS letter is an indicator that the Gov. Haley will open up other ethics investigations to public scrutiny.

As journalists, all we can do is ask questions, and tell you what we see and hear. We're glad the latest IRS letter answers some of our questions, but it definitely doesn't answer all of them -- and it may create a few more once the chips are finished falling. Until these questions (and many other outstanding ethics questions regarding the way the governor's office operates) are answered, you can bet we'll continue to ask them.

I am very happy that Smith is happy. Now, how about a retraction? Or a correction? Maybe a simple, "I'm sorry?"

If anyone is "parsing" words here, it's Smith. His blog reported that Haley will be indicted. The evidence clearly shows that this was never going to happen.Time for Smith to man up and accept responsibility for being wrong.

Otherwise, what we're left with here is a base political smear from a hyperpartisan hack.





My face is a little red this morning having printed what we now know is a false story about the imminent indictment of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley for tax fraud relating to the construction of a Sikh temple involving her family.

I'm not the only one with egg on my face this morning. Most major media outlets picked up the Palmetto Public Record report, supposedly sourced by three independent government officials, about the coming indictment of Haley.

It turns out, the IRS wrote a letter to the Sikh organization that was building the temple, telling them they were not the target of an investigation after all. The letter was sent last fall.

The Hill:

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.

The Public Record alleged that an investigation into possible wrong doing had been ongoing since March 2011. According to the IRS, the letter was sent in late September or early October.

"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.

The PPR, in a post this morning, fails to retract the story and basically says that they printed a lie, but it's not their fault:

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.

Apparently, it is Governor Haley's fault that the PPR printed a lie. The proprietor of the blog, Logan Smith, fails to mention that his "sources" were dead wrong, that the story was, in essence, a lie, and that he owes his readers - if not Governor Haley - an apology.

His exact words from the blog post informing us that Haley was to be indicted:

Two well-placed legal experts have independently told Palmetto Public Record they expect the U.S. Department of Justice to issue an indictment against South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley on charges of tax fraud as early as this week.

This is false information. And nowhere in the explanatory post from this morning does Mr. Smith acknowledge that he made a mistake in publishing it.

No need to "parse" anything. The statement is incorrect. Smith chooses to muddy the waters by writing that PPR published all sorts of documents - unrelated to the imminent indictment of Haley - that were a matter of public record and are true. The fact that those documents were related to the Sikh temple - an organization that Haley has never been responsible for keeping records or writing checks - is significant because Smith accused Haley of keeping the temple's books:

"There has been a great deal of chatter lately regarding a federal investigation of the Sikh worship center run by Gov. Nikki Haley's father, Dr. Ajit Randhawa. Speculation on the probe's target has run anywhere from delinquent taxes to money laundering and tax fraud, with varying accounts of the governor's own involvement in the temple's shady finances."

This is a smear. As is this:

Gov. Haley is reported to have managed the temple's finances as late as 2003, and our sources believe any indictment would center on what happened to the missing money.

Haley denies having had anything to do with financial recordkeeping for the temple:

"I was never an accountant for the temple," Haley said.  "I have nothing to do with the temple. My dad and the Indian community started the temple, not him. There is no truth. I never did a deposit. I never wrote a check. I never touched the books. I never had anything to do with it.

Smith didn't bother to acknowledge his error in hinting at Haley's involvement in temple finances.

To be fair, here is the entire Logan Smith statement on the matter:

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 IRS said yesterday they wouldn't comment on any possible investigations, and then said they couldn't discuss it with anyone not directly tied to the investigation. For a person who told ABC News there was never any investigation to begin with, the IRS certainly sent Gov. Haley's chief of staff a letter quickly regarding a situation from which she claims to be so distant.

Nevertheless, today's letter should have been a refreshingly transparent development -- certainly a change from how Gov. Haley's office has conducted business in the past. We welcome the transparency of the governor's office sharing her correspondence, and hope that the release of this IRS letter is an indicator that the Gov. Haley will open up other ethics investigations to public scrutiny.

As journalists, all we can do is ask questions, and tell you what we see and hear. We're glad the latest IRS letter answers some of our questions, but it definitely doesn't answer all of them -- and it may create a few more once the chips are finished falling. Until these questions (and many other outstanding ethics questions regarding the way the governor's office operates) are answered, you can bet we'll continue to ask them.

I am very happy that Smith is happy. Now, how about a retraction? Or a correction? Maybe a simple, "I'm sorry?"

If anyone is "parsing" words here, it's Smith. His blog reported that Haley will be indicted. The evidence clearly shows that this was never going to happen.Time for Smith to man up and accept responsibility for being wrong.

Otherwise, what we're left with here is a base political smear from a hyperpartisan hack.