SC Gov. Haley refuses to answer questions about public documents request
COLUMBIA — Gov. Nikki Haley today refused during a public appearance to answer a reporter's questions about public documents her administration has failed to provide.
Today's appearance was the time her spokesman said the governor would be available to discuss a possible violation of the state public records law and other recent criticism of her influence over an independent health panel.
Haley presided over a 20-minute meeting of the state Budget and Control Board. Haley routinely makes herself available for media inquiries after such meetings.
Confronted by a Post and Courier reporter who was among other members of the media, Haley refused to speak or make eye contact. A group of aides surrounded her, keeping reporters out of the way.
"We have to move along today," a staffer said.
When told the public appearance was the one time the governor's own spokesman, Rob Godfrey, said she would be available, a staffer said: "You'll have to talk to Rob Godfrey about that."
Godfrey could not be immediately reached.
Haley, surrounded by her group of aides, waited for an elevator in silence as a reporter asked why emails sent from Haley were not included in response to a May public records request by the newspaper.
Bill Rogers, president of the S. C. Press Association, likened Haley to "a deer in headlights."
"She backed out of her responsibility to answer the questions," Rogers said. "A press release doesn't cut it."
Haley's office for three days has refused to say why emails in question were not a part of its response.
The March emails show Haley dictated the findings of a committee she set up to study how the state would handle the federal health care overhaul before the panel met for the first time.
The Health Planning Committee's November findings mirrored Haley's directive that "the whole point of this commission should be to figure out how to opt out and how to avoid a federal takeover, NOT create a state exchange."
A central part of the federal health overhaul, an exchange is a marketplace where various insurance plans eventually will be sold.
The Post and Courier in May requested documents related to the exchange from the governor's office, which released no emails from Haley.
Haley's emails surfaced Friday after a different state agency responded to a separate request for documents.
The two requests are nearly identical.