Gov. Nikki Haley's office did not release emails exposing its influence over a nonpartisan health care committee, instead releasing innocuous materials when The Post and Courier asked in May for documents related to the panel.


March 31 emails

Revelatory emails surfaced Friday after a separate state agency responded to a different request for documents under the South Carolina public records law.

The two requests are nearly identical.

The governor's response contained press releases, public schedules and some correspondence among staffers, but no emails from the governor.

Haley's office offered no explanation for the discrepancy.

Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey said the governor was unavailable for an interview Tuesday or today, but has a scheduled public availability on Thursday.

Jay Bender, an attorney for the S.C. Press Association, blasted the omission and the lack of response.

"This is consistent with the governor's idea that it is acceptable to destroy public records in spite of a state law that demands their preservation," he said.

Bender pointed to a March email thread in which Haley tells her top aides the outcome she expects of a nonpartisan committee she established to study how the federal health care overhaul should be implemented in the state.

Recommendations in the committee's report, sent to the governor two weeks ago, reflect the directions Haley gave in the March email.

"They're covering up a sham," Bender said. "They're covering the fact that the committee came up with a decision the governor preordained."

In an email, Godfrey said, "The governor's office provided you with all records the office had in its possession that were responsive to your request."

Godfrey did not respond to follow-up questions about the missing records.