Fact Check: Sheheen Ad Says Haley “Hid” Computer Hacking Scandal

Fact Check: Sheheen Ad “Futures” (Image 1)
Fact Check: Sheheen Ad “Futures” (Image 1)

A new TV ad from Democratic candidate for South Carolina Vincent Sheheen attacks Gov. Nikki Haley for her handling of the security breach at the state Department of Revenue in 2012.

The ad says, “When hackers stole the Social Security numbers of 3.6 million South Carolinians, Haley hid it from us for over two weeks.”

It’s true that Gov. Haley waited more than two weeks to announce the breach, but there’s a reason she didn’t. The State Law Enforcement Division and the Secret Service asked her not to, because they needed time to get their investigation going before the hackers found out the breach was public knowledge.

SLED Chief Mark Keel says, “We both asked her, when this thing first came to our attention, to not go public with it because it would interfere with our investigation. And we asked her not to do it and she reluctantly agreed.” He said it’s not fair to say she “hid” the hacking.

But Sen. Sheheen says, “This is a democracy, and elected leaders are supposed to make the decisions. Gov. Haley decided that she wanted to keep it secret. I would have given it to the public. At the end of the day, it’s not a police state. Police don’t make the decisions about openness to the public.”

He says if he had been governor, he would have announced the hacking right away, even if law enforcement asked him not to. “I would have erred on the side of disclosing to the public, and I’ve heard from thousands of people across this state, as I’ve traveled this state, say they wish they had known that their most personal, private information had been stolen so they could have taken action to protect themselves earlier,” he says.

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