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S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley explains her hospital pay

First, S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley's former job as a hospital fundraiser brought questions about her landing donations from companies she legislated. Then she faced questions about a stormy departure after her old boss claimed she didn't show up for work.

On Wednesday, the Republican governor was left trying to explain the latest controversy surrounding the job: why she appears to have boasted a six-figure income in her application for the position, earnings that were far different than what Haley reported on her income tax forms.

The governor said she never filled out the application stating she was making $125,000 a year with her parents' clothing business and asking for the same amount of pay from the prospective job at Lexington Medical Center.

The documents were first obtained and reported by The (Columbia) State newspaper.

"I had no input on that form. I did not sit in front of the computer and fill it out online.

"I did not sign it. And never did I mention the number 125 to the hospital or to anyone else, because that's not an accurate number," Haley told The Associated Press.

Indeed, documents obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request appear to verify she had the job and knew her salary.

The governor told AP she had nothing to do with the salary information on the application, in part because she had already been told she had the job at a $110,000 salary. She also insinuated a hospital official must have filled out the paperwork, something the medical center questioned.

Haley said her paperwork was completed in person in the hospital's offices.

"I filled out my HR paperwork in the HR office of the hospital. That's when I signed the SLED background check. That's when I went and I got my blood tested.

"That's when I went and did all those things. That was the time to sign documentation. At no point did I enter information and at no point did they ask me to sign anything like that," she emphatically stated.

Haley said there was no need for her to inflate her salary because she already had the job.

"This was done. Why would I do it?" Haley said.

On Aug. 4, 2008, Haley was told she had the $110,000 a year job and needed to show up on Aug. 6 for pre-employment screening and paperwork.

The online paperwork, including a background check and the application, have typewritten responses and are both dated Aug. 5. Haley signed the background check document; but there is no signature on the application.

But the application also includes references and the name of an old supervisor.

"I think they would have asked to provide references, but I think I either gave those references as a board member or they could have asked for references at the time and I probably gave them to them," Haley said.

As for the supervisor, Haley notes when paperwork was being wrapped up "she could have asked me a couple of questions, but I did not sit at a computer and fill it out."

Inflating one's own salary on a job application, not uncommon in a quest for an income boost from a potential employer, is not illegal.

Haley and tax forms she has previously made available to reporters make it clear she never earned that much at her parents' business, Exotica.

In 2007, the year reflected on the application, the tax records show she was paid $22,000.

Haley left the $110,000 hospital job last year as she trailed in the governor's race, telling reporters she wanted to concentrate on the campaign.

E-mails between Haley and her bosses later showed friction over the amount of time she was working and an ensuing severance deal paid her $35,000.

Hospital administrators promised not to say anything to embarrass her or question her integrity.

During the campaign, Haley was questioned about her work raising money for the medical center foundation from groups with business before the legislature, including a subcommittee on which she served. Donors included BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina and payday lenders. The companies said her legislative work had nothing to do with their gifts.

Haley said she had been on the hospital's board of directors for years and much of her work and personal information was on file there.

Mark Shelley, the hospital's marketing director, said Wednesday that the hospital's human resources office told Haley in a phone call to fill out the application and other paperwork online.

He said it was "possible but highly unlikely" someone would set up a computer account to fill out the application for the then-state representative from Lexington.