Who is Jim Hirni and why is he working for Nikki Haley?
"...James F. Hirni had the sort of political upbringing that GOP stars are made of: college class president, a stop at the Heritage Foundation, consecutive stints in the offices of Sen. Bill Frist (Tennessee), Sen. Jeff Sessions (Alabama), and Sen. Tim Hutchinson (Arkansas). “In this town, it’s not about how much you know, but about who you know,” he observed—a credo he lived and worked by as a lobbyist representing blue-chip clients such as Fidelity Investments.
Who you know” was also, in part, what did him in when he was caught bribing legislative aides with World Series tickets, steaks, and a strip club visit. In 2008, Hirni pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit honest services fraud in connection with the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, which shook Washington.
But that was not the end of Hirni’s political career.
Today, he's a designated government informant—the product of a plea deal with the Justice Department to spare him jail time. And lately, he’s been organizing fundraisers for such rising Republican stars as South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley and possible 2012 presidential candidate Rick Santorum.
That the Abramoff associate is playing matchmaker for Haley and Santorum has left some members of South Carolina’s political community dumbfounded. Although the Department of Justice says that Hirni is free to pursue political work, some question the wisdom of having Hirni anywhere near the financial heart of South Carolina politics—especially because, according to the nature of his plea agreement, Hirni has avoided jail time by promising to cooperate with federal authorities.
“The more he cooperates, the more benefit he is going to get,” said Washington attorney Barry Pollack, who represented defendants in the Abramoff case. “They might as well be talking to a federal prosecutor when they are talking to him...” Read article