- Associated Press - Thursday, May 5, 2016

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A House oversight committee looking into the South Carolina Department of Public Safety abruptly ended its meeting Thursday after playing a tape of the agency’s human resources director saying there were times when it was OK to lie.

Rep. Kirkman Finlay had a House Legislative Oversight Committee lawyer read the definition of perjury twice, then took a 20-minute break before playing the tape. Lawmakers did not say when the tape was made or give any other information about who Human Resources Director Tosha Autry might have been talking to.

“You will tell white lies because you know what is going on, but you’ve got to act like you don’t know what is going on,” Autry said on the tape. She confirmed to lawmakers it was her voice.

Autry said the comment was misunderstood and she was saying that people in human resources know confidential information like why someone was fired and can’t talk about everything they know without violating confidentiality rules.

“They may know the answer to the question, but they can’t tell them,” Autry said. “That statement was taken totally out of context.”

Finlay told Public Safety Director Leroy Smith to get to the bottom of the remark before the committee meets again in a few weeks.

“Clearly I am going to need some definition around the tape,” the Columbia Republican said. “Maybe there is a logical explanation.”

The agency said later in a statement it would look into the remarks.

“This information that arose in the hearing is new to the department. As such, we would like the opportunity to review the recording in its entirety and the context in which the comments by Ms. Autry were made,” the Department of Public Safety said.

The House Legislative Oversight Committee takes turns reviewing all state agencies.

The Department of Public Safety oversees state troopers, state government security and other statewide highway law enforcement.

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