Nikki Haley Administration Deletes Emails, Potentially Violating State Open Records Law

11/22/2011 05:35 pm ET

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley's (R) office has a policy of deleting some of its emails, potentially violating the state's public records law.

Only emails between the governor and the public are saved, while all other emails are deleted, reported The State on the Sunday after the South Carolina newspaper requested all of Haley's in office emails. Her office said all important correspondence is retained, while internal emails are not. Her office has defended the practice, arguing that space is limited, that former Gov. Mark Sanford had the same policy, and that Haley rarely uses email to conduct state business anyway.

Jay Bender, a media lawyer, told WCBD-TV on Tuesday that he thinks the deletion is against the spirit of the state's public records law, but he was not certain that the letter of the law was broken. State law requires certain public records to be retained and transferred to the state's Department of Archives and History, according to the Charleston, S.C. television station.

Haley is not the only governor to come under fire for deleting emails. Staff for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is running in the Republican presidential primary, purchased their state-issued hard drives in 2006 before he left office, wiping all emails from a server. Common Cause Massachusetts said to the Boston Globe that that incident too may not have violated the letter of the state's public records law, but may have violated its spirit.

The administration Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) acknowledged that emails from Scott's iPad and dozens of emails from his transition were deleted in separate incidents his staff has described as accidental.