Haley rarely uses state cellphone

Governor Nikki Haley

Renee Ittner-McManus

Columbia -- A review of Gov. Nikki Haley's use of her state-issued cellphone raises questions about whether she is using public communications to do state business or communications that the public cannot scrutinize.

According to a review of public records provided to The State by Haley's office, Haley's state-issued cellphone has been used 197 times over nine billing cycles, an average of about one call a day. That total includes eight calls to check her voicemail.

Haley ran on a platform of government transparency, promising to bring a new level of accountability and openness to state government.

The public and media, under the state's open-records law, can access the phone logs of the state-issued cellphones given to Haley and other public officials to see who their elected officials are speaking with and when.

Dick Harpootlian, chairman of the S.C. Democratic Party, said Haley's infrequent use of her state-issued phone shows that she secretly is conducting state business on other phones, breaking her promise of openness.

"She's spending all of this time out-of-state and she's not using her cellphone?" said Harpootlian, referring to Haley's travels to a half-dozen other states for re-election fundraisers. "Sherlock Holmes 101 tells you she's not using that phone. Transparency applies to everyone but her."

Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey said the governor is not using a private cellphone to handle state business.

Godfrey said Haley is using her state-issued cellphone along with other forms of communication to do her job. Sometimes, he said, staff members hand Haley their cellphones to make and receive calls, particularly when she and staff are traveling.

The governor also does many face-to-face meetings, he said.

"No, the governor does not use a private phone for state business," Godfrey said. "She is, however, often connected on calls either in the office or via staff. As is evidenced by her public schedule, she's on the phone a great deal."

According to records released by Haley's office, most of the 197 calls were to or from other S.C. numbers, including a handful of calls that Haley made while she was in France for the Paris Air Show.

Most of the calls are to Haley staff members.

Others are to elected officials, including Attorney General Alan Wilson and Adjutant General Bob Livingston, both Republicans; House Majority Leader Kenny Bingham, R-Lexington; and Department of Commerce officials.

In its busiest phone-usage period, Haley's phone was used 54 times from March 29 to April 28.