GOVERNOR “GOES LEFT” FOR COSTLY COUNSEL DURING REVENUE DEPARTMENT SCANDAL
S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley’s administration retained a liberal Columbia, S.C. public relations firm and a left-of-center, insider law firm to assist her in handling this year’s massive security breach at the S.C. Department of Revenue (SCDOR). Not only that, these firms were retained by Haley more than a week before she informed the public of this unprecedented state-level breach.
And like Haley’s dubious credit monitoring deal with Experian, neither of these contracts was bid competitively.
The law firm of Nelson Mullins and the public relations firm Chernoff Silver have billed Haley’s administration more than $500,000 so far, according to testimony given to a legislative committee investigating the breach. That’s roughly 25 percent of the annual budget for the S.C. Governor’s Office.
Meanwhile Experian has already billed the state $12 million for one year of credit monitoring – and is asking for another $10 million to extend its services for a second year.
Haley’s administration has received a $20 million bailout to pay for all the costs associated with the breach.
Beginning in late August, SCDOR coughed up 3.8 million Social Security numbers, 3.3 million bank account numbers, tax info for more than 650,000 businesses and nearly 400,000 credit and debit card numbers to as-yet-unidentified hackers. Haley’s agency never even knew it had been hit – in fact it wasn’t until mid-October that federal law enforcement officials informed the state its system had been compromised.
At that point, Haley waited another sixteen days before going public with the news.
So … did taxpayers get their money’s worth as it relates to the “crisis management public relations counsel” Haley received?
Clearly not. In fact Haley’s handling of the hack has been an unmitigated disaster.
Haley initially claimed that “there wasn’t anything where anyone in state government could have done anything” to stop the breach – and that the Palmetto State used “industry standard” data security methods. Both of those claims turned out to be completely false – as a simple $25,000 expense could have prevented the hack (which will wind up costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars).
In other words, South Carolina taxpayers paid hundreds of thousands of dollars … for which they received nothing but a string of lies and excuses from their governor.