Presidential hopeful Marco Rubio has largely stayed out of the childish sparring that has thus far defined the Republican presidential race. He seems to be the steady, even-tempered alternative in a sea full of hot-headed, bombastic, red men. But, according to a BuzzFeed report, one of Rubio’s main advisors is actually as dirty as they come.

McKay Coppins reports that Wesley Donehue, Rubio’s chief digital strategist, has a history of unsavory dealings in South Carolina—most notably, when he aggressively pushed baseless rumors that Gov. Nikki Haley had had an affair with local conservative blogger Will Folks.

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In 2010, Folks revealed on his blog FITSNews that he had had an “inappropriate physical relationship” with Haley years earlier. While Folks became the pariah for the incident (which remains unsubstantiated and did not thwart Haley’s gubernatorial campaign), five sources in the state confirmed to BuzzFeed that several GOP operatives had been busy circulating those rumors for weeks prior to Folks’ confession.

From BuzzFeed:

Donehue admits now to “gossiping about the rumors,” but insists, “I certainly did not start them, or intentionally spread them.”

But in a series of text messages he exchanged with FITSNews’s Folks in May 2010 — days before the blogger published his allegation — Donehue seemed to suggest he had more control over the rumormongering than he now lets on.

In one of the messages (which were first published at FITSNews, and have since been authenticated by BuzzFeed News), Donehue wrote to Folks, “Here my promise to you, man to man. If you tell me that a story will fuck your marriage, I’ll do everything in my power to kill it.” In another, Donehue said, “I didn’t start this. I just told too many people that it was happening.” And in yet another, he boasted, “If I wanted [Haley] gone I would have already done it.”

In another text, Donehue said to Folks, “Now, I don’t give a fuck of [sic] you believe me or not. Your the one who screwed her. You’re the one who bragged about it. She’s the one who told BJ. Yall point fingers at your own damn selves and leave me the fuck out of it.”


Contact the author at joanna@jezebel.com.

Image via Getty.