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 laws, 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 the first-term Republican governor 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's 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 cellphone records released by Haley's office, the governor has made or received 197 calls on her state-issued cellphone during nine billing cycles, from January to September. Most of the calls were to or from other S.C. numbers, including a handful of calls that Haley made while was 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. In the slowest period, the phone was used seven times for the July/August billing cycle.