Nikki Haley has often drawn comparisons to Sarah Palin. Well, according to an exclusive report in The (Columbia) State, we can add one more similarity to the list--apparently South Carolina's governor doesn't like keeping emails.
Under a policy set by the governor’s office, only emails between the governor and the public are being saved and archived permanently.
Other emails that Haley sends or receives — including exchanges with her staff members — are being deleted.
Haley had promised a more open and transparent way of governing. Specifically, she promised to send any state-related email via her state-issued account. However, she doesn't consider internal emails to be worth keeping--a policy that might be illegal.
Some say the policy violates the state’s open-records law, meant to ensure the public has access to government records. Because emails are being deleted, they are not available for the public to review.
“If you fail to retain public documents for some reasonable length of time, it’s a violation of (the law),” said Carmen Maye, an attorney for the S.C. Press Association, of which The State is a member.
Additionally, several historians claim that by deleting her internal emails, Haley is making it difficult for them to peer into the guts of her administration.
When The State asked for all of Haley's emails since she took office back in January, it didn't get any dated before October--and the ones they got weren't of any substantive value. It was only then that the retention policy came to light. Maye thinks that at the very least, Haley is violating the spirit of the open-records law.
Additionally, the state Department of Archives and History considers all email--including internal correspondence--to be "executive correspondence" that should be retained indefinitely. Archives director Eric Emerson fears that as a result of Haley's policy, important information about her administration could be lost forever.
Haley says she complies with the letter of the law, but apparently she's falling all over herself to keep from leaving a paper trail.
Staffers say Haley rarely, if ever, uses email to conduct state business, making the retention of all emails pointless. Instead, Haley relies on the phone and face-to-face meetings, they say.
(Haley staffers used the same business-is-done-face-to-face explanation last week to explain why the governor averaged only one phone call a day on her state-issued cell phone. They said Haley most often uses her office phone or staffers’ cell phones.)
A handful of Republican lawmakers confirmed to The State that they rarely if ever receive emails directly from the governor.
Sounds like Haley has a funny definition of transparency. But then again, that's to be expected from a Republican.