CHARLESTON - State Rep. and GOP gubernatorial hopeful Nikki Haley said she will release approximately 8,000 e-mails she sent and received as a state lawmaker Friday.

Her Democratic opponent, state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, previously released his legislative e-mails and has challenged Haley to do the same.

The media have sought access to the e-mails since June, after two Republican operatives alleged they had affairs with Haley.

Haley has repeatedly denied the affairs, but Sheheen supporters have said it’s hypocritical of Haley not to release the e-mails because she has made transparency a big issue in her campaign.

But Haley said she needed time to review the thousands of messages and block out names of constituents who had e-mailed her about health issues, prison cases, custody cases and other sensitive or personal matters.

“We had to go through and take out every one of those names to protect the citizens because they never thought these e-mails would be released,” she said. “It is a distraction, but I will do it.”

She then criticized Sheheen for emphasizing her e-mails but not discussing where he stands on Obama’s health care legislation, Arizona’s immigration law and worker’s comp reform. “Those are the things that affect people every day,” she said.

Haley made the comments during a Thursday afternoon campaign visit to Charleston’s Meeting Street Academy, an innovative private school that works with underprivileged students. Haley used the visit to highlight her educational reform ideas.

Read more in tomorrow’s editions of The Post and Courier.