By Robert Behre
Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Vincent Sheheen questioned whether voters should trust his Republican opponent Nikki Haley, noting she has failed to live up to basic civic obligations, such as paying taxes.
Last week, a report showed Haley's family's clothing store business -- for which she has done accounting work -- was penalized three times, twice for failing to pay corporate income taxes and once for not turning over taxes withheld from employee checks. She also has been fined for failing to pay her personal income taxes on time.
"There seems to be a pattern that the rules don't apply," Sheheen said Wednesday after a campaign stop in North Charleston. "I think it's particularly problematic that she would not pay her employee withholding because that money really belongs to the employee. ... For somebody who claims their accounting skills are a reason why she should be elected governor, I think that's particularly disturbing."
Haley's campaign has said she is running to cut red tape and simplify a burdensome tax structure. Ending the corporate income tax has been one of her main talking points on the campaign trail.
Sheheen also criticized Haley for being willing to restore the sales tax on groceries as part of wider tax reform that would eliminate the corporate income tax.
"I think she's just out of touch with regular people in South Carolina who do pay their taxes and do have to buy food and put it on their table," he said.
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Haley's campaign fired a broadside at Sheheen this week, noting that he was endorsed by The Injury Board Blog Network, a national group of personal injury attorneys. It noted Sheheen, a lawyer, voted to weaken a tort reform bill in 2005.
"The entrenched special interest network of trial lawyers and personal injury attorneys is circling the wagons for Vince Sheheen," said Haley's communications director, Rob Godfrey.
Sheheen said he wasn't aware of the endorsement but has received backing from several groups. "I hope everybody endorses me," he said. "I'd rather have a successful lawyer as my governor than an accountant who doesn't pay her taxes."