Gov. Nikki Haley hid the hacking of 3.6 million South Carolinian's Social Security numbers for two weeks, according to a new campaign ad by her Democratic rival, S.C. Sen. Vincent Sheheen.
In his second TV campaign ad, released first to The Buzz, Sheheen hit Haley on how she managed the 2012 Department of Revenue data breach that resulted in the theft of the personal and financial information for 6.4 million S.C. residents and businesses.
The ad is part of a six-figure media buy statewide starting Thursday, Sheheen's campaign said.
The U.S. Secret Service notified the state of a data breach on October 10, and Haley did not tell the public that the breach happened until October 26 because, she said, the FBI and the State Law Enforcement Division asked her not to discuss it publicly while they conducted their own investigation.
Sheheen's ad features an unidentified man and woman in a house, campaign volunteers, and a voiceover from the woman, who says:
"When our credit-card company saw suspicious activity on our card...They called us right away. We can't say the same for Nikki Haley."
"When hackers stole the Social Security numbers of $3.6 million South Carolinians, Haley hid it from us for over two weeks, the biggest security breach of any state agency in history, putting our personal information at risk, and not even a warning from Haley for weeks."
"When it comes to protecting us, we just can't trust Nikki Haley."
Haley campaign spokesman Rob Godfrey called Sheheen a "politically desperate trial lawyer" who "should know better than to obstruct a criminal investigation. It's shocking that Vince, as governor, would disregard the request of SLED and the Secret Service and compromise the effort to arrest the criminal hacker."
Nearing the hacking incident's two-year anniversary, the state is holding secret a report of what happened in the hacking – a report that Sheheen and others have called to be released. Law enforcement leaders have said they oppose that move. Haley and law enforcement have not shared any details of the investigation.
The hacker gained access to the state data through an email an employee opened that downloaded malware onto the computer.
The ad comes out a day after Sheheen questioned how Haley and the Department of Social Services calculated the more than 24,000 people who they have helped move from welfare to work. Sheheen contends that under-employed people who may still need state assistance are included in those numbers.
Haley and Sheheen also face independent petition candidate Tom Ervin of Greenville, Libertarian Steve French of Charleston and United Citizens candidate Morgan Bruce Reeves of Winnsboro in November's election.