Near the very end of the fight over the Confederate flag in South Carolina, Gov. Nikki Haley claimed that she'd heard moving pleas from both sides of the debate.
"We heard about the true honor of heritage and tradition," Haley said July 9, moment before signing a bill to remove the Confederate battle flag from the statehouse grounds.
"We heard about the true pain that many had felt. And we took the time to try to understand it."
But evidently, she didn't hear about any of that via her government-provided e-mail account.
In a response to a public records request from BuzzFeed News, Haley's office said that she didn't send or receive any e-mails related to the Confederate flag after a gunman killed nine people at Charleston's historic Emanuel AME Church.
"Our office does not possess records responsive to your request," Haley's chief legal counsel Swati Patel said in a written response to BuzzFeed News, dated July 20.
Haley was near the center of the latest tempest over the flag in South Carolina, which kicked up again after nine people were killed last month at a historic black church in Charleston. The suspect, Dylann Roof, had posted multiple pictures online of himself posing with the flag, as well as a racist online manifesto.
In the days after those deaths, a number of activists, public officials, and politicians — even some like Sen. Lindsey Graham, who'd previously expressed support for the flag — called for the flag to come down.
Haley moved quickly, calling on state lawmakers to vote to remove the flag. Republican leaders in other states soon joined the chorus of those calling for Confederate symbols to come down after years of shrugging off the issue.
"Just as she does when it involves any issue, the governor met in person and talked by phone with staff, legislative leaders, community leaders and members of our congressional delegation about the Confederate flag," Haley press secretary Chaney Adams said in a statement to BuzzFeed News.
Adams also confirmed that Haley does indeed have a government e-mail account.
The Confederate flag was raised on the state house dome in 1962, at a time when it had become a symbol of resistance to the civil rights movement. Despite protests, it remained until 2000, when it was moved to a pole next to the Confederate monument.
On July 10, it was placed in the Relic Room at the South Carolina State Museum, which houses other important artifacts from the state's history.
Joel Anderson is a senior national reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco. His secure PGP fingerprint is 0FC3 6546 0874 8D17 BDA8 B237 E902 EE20 2D74 269
Contact Joel Anderson at email@example.com.
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