COLUMBIA, SC — State Sen. Vincent Sheheen, Republican Gov. Nikki Haley's Democratic rival in November, released a new online-only ad Wednesday hitting Haley for troubles at the state's child-welfare agency.
Specifically, the ad criticizes Haley for supporting S.C. Department of Social Services Director Lillian Koller, who resigned Monday after several months of mounting criticism aimed at Social Services and just as some state senators were looking to bring to the Senate floor a no-confidence vote in her leadership.
The web ad, part of a "small" online advertising buy according to a source with the campaign, shows video of Haley and Koller discussing progress in the Department of Social Services.
Clips are from a video posted on Haley's official website last year, when she and Koller announced that the state had met federal benchmarks for improvements in child safety for the first time, avoiding a more than $1 million penalty.
In the video, Haley and Koller credit the accomplishment to a new system of measuring the agency's progress, which Koller brought in 2011 when Haley took office and appointed her to lead Social Services.
Haley says that Koller immediately "started to measure data, she started to actually look at statistics...She's brought in accountability at DSS," and started measuring activity in the agency's programs. Koller says in the video that it is appropriate to "take a moment and feel the pride and be grateful for the success that we've had" since 2011.
Over Haley and Koller's comments, the ad runs headlines detailing more recent revelations about high case loads and the time it takes for Social Services to make contact with alleged victims of child abuse, criticisms that have emerged as a Senate panel continues investigating the agency.
Criticizing Haley's management of Social Services is a key strategy for Sheheen's bid for the governor's office. Late last month, Sheheen released his first television ad also targeting Haley on the subject.
"Just more politics from trial lawyer Vince Sheheen," said Rob Godfrey, Haley's spokesman, in response to the ad. "One has to wonder whether Vince was more concerned about childrens welfare when he was defending drug dealers in court or when he was trying to get a child molester's (sic) sentence reduced.
Haley's campaign is referring to a man, around the age of 18 according to court records, who Sheheen defended who was charged in 1999 with criminal sexual conduct with a minor between the age of 11 and 14, second degree.
Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/2014/04/24/3404025/morning-buzz.html?sp=/99/132/312/169/#storylink=cpy Watch the video here (Can't see it? Click here):