The Democratic Governor’s Association released its first campaign ad criticizing Gov. Nikki Haley for the state’s child-welfare agency and what critics have described as a culture of being more concerned about numbers than the welfare of children.
Haley’s opponent, Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, has made recent turmoil at Social Services central to his campaign to unseat Haley in November.
The ad, part of a six-figure media buy, features Betsy Burton, a former Department of Social Services staff attorney who resigned, she says, because of the practice. Burton said she has worked as a child advocate since 1977.
“I resigned from DSS because we actually were leaving children in dangerous situations to make the numbers look better. That really disturbed my conscience, and I did not wish to be a part of that,” she said, adding, “Nikki Haley is protecting her career instead of our children.”
Haley's spokesman Rob Godfrey said, “Vince Sheheen’s liberal allies in Washington are trying to rescue his flailing campaign, but they’re missing the facts.
"As a mother, Governor Haley is intensely concerned about the children under DSS care," Godfrey said. "The death of even one child is too many and tragic, and Governor Haley continues to press for reforms of the agency to continue to improve its services.”
Haley’s Cabinet agency took a hit when Director Lillian Koller resigned amid increasing questions over whether Social Services mishandled abuse cases of children who later died.
Haley and Sheheen also will face independent petition candidate Tom Ervin, Libertarian Steve French, and United Citizens candidate Morgan Reeves.