COLUMBIA, SC — Sen. Vincent Sheheen met with local farmers in Aiken County on Monday who are angry about a potato farm's authorization to withdraw large amounts of water from the Edisto River.
Sheheen, the likely Democratic nominee for governor, said the farmers were angry that DHEC authorized the water withdrawals "behind closed doors and without public input."
"I shared with them that we've seen a pattern of secrecy in this administration," Sheheen said in an interview with The State. "We've seen it with this hacking scandal and the fact that theye got a secret report ... and they won't release it to the public.
"They err on the side of hiding things instead of operating in the public," Sheheen said. "I think we saw that in the tuberculosis (outbreak) and the failure to notify the parents and weve certainly seen it here. And thats not what accountability is. So I think we have an accountability problem in state government in this administration."
Haley campaign spokesman Rob Godfrey criticized Sheheen for hiding "his own trial lawyer income, which he earns representing criminals before judges he has had a hand in appointing."
"Political ambulance chaser Vince Sheheen never misses an opportunity to misstate the facts about Governor Haleys record of bringing more transparency to government than any governor in recent state history," Godfrey said in an email.
A consulting firm, Mandiant, prepared a full report on how a hacker was able to break into the state's Department of Revenue and steal the personal information of 6.4 million consumers. But the Department of Revenue has declined Freedom of Information Act requests for the report, citing security reasons. State lawmamkers can view the report if they sign a nondisclosure agreement, but Sheheen has declined to do so.
Last year, a tuberculosis outbreak in Greenwood County resulted in more than 100 people, including 50 children, testing positive for tuberculosis. DHEC Director Catherine Templeton later admitted her agency mishandled an investigation about the outbreak leading to the firing of at least four employees.
The Department of Revenue is a cabinet agency that reports directly to the governor. DHEC is not a cabinet agency, but the governor does appoint members of its board.