COLUMBIA — State Sen. Katrina Shealy is waiting to see if she will get a phone call from Gov. Nikki Haley after the two longtime political allies had a public falling out on social media over state Department of Social Services director Lillian Koller.
If they want to call me, Ill be happy to talk to them, Shealy said Thursday of Haleys office. Im not calling because I dont feel like its my place to call. I didnt type that original post. I didnt initiate this conversation.
The spat began when Haley called out fellow Lexington Republican Shealy on her Facebook page Wednesday, accusing Shealy who Haley twice supported for the Senate of spreading a rumor about Kollers religious beliefs.
In the Facebook post, Haley wrote she was proud of Koller for testifying Wednesday in the face of political games by some state senators.
Koller, who suffered a stroke in December, testified for the first time Wednesday before a Senate panel that, for months, has been investigating allegations that Social Services repeatedly botched child-abuse cases, leading to the deaths of children.
When a comment on Haleys Facebook post accused Koller of being an atheist, Haley fired back: Dir. Koller is not an Atheist. I wish you and Sen. Shealy would quit spreading that lie. She is Jewish and the daughter of Holocaust survivors.
Shealy responded on her own Facebook page.
I am so angry!!!!! Shealys response began.
Shealy, a member of the Senate panel investigating Social Services, said she asked the governors staff in confidence about a rumor about Kollers religion. When she was told Koller was Jewish, Shealy wrote that she accepted that answer and did not talk about it except to correct others.
Now I am being reprimanded on the Governors Facebook Page saying I am spreading rumors. ... Someone owes me an apology!!!
A spokesman for Gov. Haley declined comment Thursday on the matter.
Shealy said Thursday that she was taken aback by the governors post, adding she wished Haley had called her directly about whether she was spreading rumors, instead of posting on Facebook.
The governor and I have always been friends, Shealy said. I would like to think if, she even thought I would do that, she would pick up the phone and call me.
The two Republicans have been political allies since Haley backed Shealy in her unsuccessful 2008 attempt to oust longtime GOP state Sen. Jake Knotts of Lexington.
Haley, the states first female governor, backed Shealy again in 2012, when she won a stunning victory over Knotts. Shealy had to run as a petition candidate after she and scores of other primary candidates were knocked off the primary ballot by a lawsuit filed by a Knotts campaign worker.
Today, Shealy is the only woman in the state Senate.
Even after the social media spat, Shealy said she still supports the governor.
Shes running for re-election, Shealy said. If she needs me, Im here for her.
But the future of Social Services appears to be a dividing point for the two.
This is not a witch hunt for Lillian Koller, Shealy said. This is not about any one person. Its about making South Carolina a better place for children and families.
Shealy called Haleys Facebook post a distraction from the issues raised during the Social Services hearing. Its all about a silly Facebook post, instead of about what really happened.