- Associated Press - Sunday, October 1, 2017

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Two years’ worth of emails South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster sent and received before he took the state’s top job have been deleted despite priorities to save the electronic communications as historical records.

No one acted to preserve McMaster’s emails from his time as lieutenant governor from 2015 to 2017 and they were automatically deleted after six months, The Post and Courier of Charleston reported (https://bit.ly/2xT5Qvx).

The governor’s office, the lieutenant governor’s office, the State Department of Archives, the Legislative Services Agency and the administrative Division of Technology have all said they do not have most of McMaster’s emails from his time as lieutenant governor.

McMaster, a former state attorney general and U.S. attorney, did retain all correspondence with constituents when he was lieutenant governor from 2015 to 2017.

The Legislative Services Agency, which helps to operate technology for the General Assembly, maintains email for members of the Legislature, including McMaster’s emails when he was lieutenant governor. But the agency has a 180-day retention policy, so McMaster’s emails were automatically deleted after that time limit was reached, agency director Troy Pound said.

“I think they’re all overwhelmed and don’t know what to do with all these emails, so they probably just don’t do anything with them and don’t send them to the Department of Archives,” said Bill Rogers, executive director of the South Carolina Press Association.

McMaster was elevated from lieutenant governor after former Gov. Nikki Haley was named United Nations ambassador in January.

McMaster early on backed the presidential bid of Donald Trump - who attacked Democrat Hillary Clinton for deleted emails.

The governor wasn’t involved in deleting the emails, McMaster spokesman Brian Symmes said.

“The governor thinks it’s unfortunate that email records were not preserved by the Legislative Services Agency and will continue to push for change in the law to make sure documents related to government business are available to the public,” Symmes said in a statement.

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