Columbia -- Two House members want to stop the deletion of emails sent and received by public officials.
State Reps. Gilda Cobb- Hunter, D-Orangeburg, and Mia Butler Garrick, D-Richland, filed separate bills this week to require the preservation of those records, which some said help the public and the news media better understand the inner workings of government. The documents also aid historians' efforts to piece together S.C. history.
Garrick's bill would require public officials to preserve emails from both their public and private computers for at least five years after they leave office.
Cobb-Hunter's bill would require the preservation of emails and other public records for 10 years. Anyone who violated that requirement, should it become law, would face a $2,500 fine per violation.
"It's important to me that the historical records be preserved," Cobb-Hunter said. "This is an opportunity to update our state's record and retention laws."
A review of Gov. Nikki Haley's email by The State newspaper last month found that some emails between Haley and staff members are being deleted. At least one previous governor, Mark Sanford, had a similar policy, Haley's office said.
Haley's office has said important emails that meet the state's definition of public records are being preserved. But emails considered routine, including inner-office communications, are being deleted by Haley and staff members.
Media attorneys the emails are public records, and the deletions violate the state's open records laws.