Very little personal in e-mails


COLUMBIA -- Republican nominee for governor Nikki Haley brushed aside her father-in-law's urging to get a lawyer involved in the days after two men claimed to have had physical relationships with the married mother of two.

The e-mail was one of more than 4,000 among 10,000 sheets of paper that Haley's campaign released Friday afternoon, nearly three months after The Post and Courier and other media outlets asked to see the messages.

Claims of the intimate relationships prompted the requests.

Haley, a state representative from Lexington, has made transparency the hallmark of her campaign, although she only partially responded to the media requests that cited the state's open record laws. The Post and Courier also asked for campaign e-mails and phone records between Haley and one of the men who made the allegations.

Releasing the e-mails is voluntary. Legislators are granted an exemption in state law that protects them from having to publicly disclose their correspondence; e-mails are automatically deleted from the state's servers after 180 days.

The campaign said Friday there are no plans to release any more of Haley's correspondence.

Vincent Sheheen, the Democratic nominee for governor and a state senator from Camden, has pressured Haley to release her e-mails after he released his e-mails earlier this month. Sheheen's campaign manager Trav Robertson Jr. said Haley is not being forthcoming.

Haley said Sheheen is trying to distract voters from the issues.

"I am very comfortable with how transparent we've been," Haley said at her campaign headquarters Friday. "Whether it's 10,000 or 11,000 or 12,000, I am not going to get into this tit-for-tat as to whether that is enough sheets of paper for you."

The e-mails Haley released are dated between April 1 and July 26 and show very little personal communication. Most of the messages are from constituents looking for her support or opposition to state legislation, political candidates and newsletters from groups such as the National Federation of Republican Women and Homeland Security Newswire.

The message to her father-in-law was one of the only messages that Haley responded to personally. In a brief message on June 3, she told Bill Haley to hold off on any legal intervention. At that time, the primary was less than a week away.

"The goal is to survive until Election Day and then deal with the mud," Haley wrote. She has consistently said publicly that she would not allow the allegations to be a distraction to her campaign.

Haley has denied that she was ever unfaithful to her husband, Michael, and neither men who made the claims provided proof. Bill Haley told his daughter-in-law that he wanted to reach out to legal counsel.

"Nikk, we are all proud of you so keep on fighting the sob's. I do think it's time for outside muscle ... if not on your behalf, then on mine and Mom's. ????" Bill Haley wrote.

On Friday, Haley said she is ready to move on from the request to make her e-mails available. Her campaign is focused on recording votes in the Legislature, creating jobs and reforming education, among other matters, she said. Haley said that it is time for Sheheen to provide more details where he stands on pressing matters before South Carolina such as illegal immigration and health care reform.

Robertson, Sheheen's campaign manager, took a shot at Haley for delaying the release of her e-mails, allowing more correspondence to be automatically deleted from the system. Robertson also criticized the campaign for not releasing e-mails sent and received from the hard drive on Haley's computer. The e-mails that were released were printed from the Statehouse server.

"What did those e-mails say and why weren't they released?" Robertson said in a statement. "If Representative Haley really believed in transparency, she would have never have dropped these right before the weekend, which is a classic trick by politicians to hide bad news. What does Representative Haley have to hide?"

Haley said her campaign staff has spent weeks preparing to release the e-mails by redacting the names and personal information of her constituents who sought her help with a variety of personal situations. She said she didn't instruct the staff to sort through the e-mails until after she had won the four-way race and subsequent runoff with U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett.

"The truth was, as we were going through the primary and as we were going through the runoff, we didn't want to be distracted," Haley said.

" … When we got past the runoff we wanted to go ahead and give what had been asked. So we turned around and gave those e-mails. We did it in as quick of a time as we could. But in all honesty, to go through 10,000 sheets of paper and protect and take out e-mail addresses and names … it takes a long time."