A 36-year-old Swansea, S.C. man arrested for stealing hundreds of thousands of Medicaid records has ties to several prominent Democratic politicians.
Chris Lykes, an employee of the S.C. Department of Health and Human Services (SCDHHS) for the past ten years, also worked as an insurance salesman for Sunrise Family Health Benefits – a company owned by S.C. Senator Darrell Jackson (D-Richland).
Numerous sources have confirmed Lykes’ employment at Sunrise – in fact we’re told that a public reference to his work with Jackson was made just last month at the Lexington County, S.C. Democratic Convention. In addition to his work at the agency and with Jackson, Lykes had also previously served as an executive committeeman for the Lexington County Democratic Party.
Other Democratic leaders who have either worked with or vouched for Lykes in the past include S.C. Senator Joel Lourie (who has some business dealings with Jackson) and S.C. Rep. James Smith, both of Columbia, S.C.
Of course it is Lykes’ proximity to Jackson that poses the biggest question marks.
After all, Jackson’s insurance company sells supplemental policies to people who receive government benefits – which is why a list of 228.435 such individuals (i.e. the list Lykes has been accused of stealing) would obviously be a useful tool in its marketing efforts.
According to investigators, Lykes began ripping off data from the agency in January – and wasn’t detected until April 10. He also managed to send at least some of the information to an as-yet-undisclosed third party.
According to WLTX TV 19 (CBS – Columbia, S.C.), Jackson and Lourie and already moving to distance themselves from Lykes.
“Mr. Lykes was an independent contractor with some of the insurance carriers Senators Lourie and Jackson represent,” the Senators said in a joint statement provided to the station. “When they were made aware of his actions his contracts were terminated immediately. He was not employed by either senator’s companies.”
S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley has called Lykes’ actions “despicable” and done her best behind the scenes to push the partisan component to this scandal.
That makes sense ..
If we were Haley, we sure as hell wouldn’t want the focus of this story to be the fact that one of her cabinet agencies doesn’t have safeguards in place to protect sensitive information like this – or that it took more than three months for them to figure out what was happening.