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Nearly three months ago the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) claimed that a lightning strike caused one of its database to go offline – specifically the database which contained the state’s Driving Under the Influence (DUI) dashcam videos and breathalyzer records.

According to the agency – which is part of Gov. Nikki Haley’s cabinet – no data was lost in this brief “outage.”

This week, however, we learned SLED is the latest Haley agency to offer up something substantially less than the truth to the public. Obviously that’s unacceptable for any agency – but it’s downright inexcusable coming from the agency tasked with enforcing our state’s laws.

Anyway, SLED got caught in its lie when a member of the S.C. Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (SCACDL) researched weather reports from the day of the outage and determined no lightning strikes came anywhere within three miles of SLED’s Columbia, S.C. headquarters.

Oops …

This week SLED finally admitted what everyone knew: There was no lightning strike. It also admitted several additional systems were compromised in the as-yet-unexplained outage. However it is still sticking to its claim that no data was compromised even as multiple information technology sources disputed that contention.

Does anyone take this agency at its word anymore?

“The willingness of South Carolinians to accept unsubstantiated and self-serving excuses from their government officials walked right out the digital door back in November along with those 6.4 million tax records that were hacked,” said SCACDL representative Patrick McLoughlin, referring to the massive data theft scandal at Haley’s Revenue Department (SCDOR).

Speaking of that debacle, SLED has yet to apprehend anyone in connection with the SCDOR breach – or even release its report outlining what happened. The agency – like Haley’s office – keeps refusing to answer questions as it refers to an “ongoing investigation.”

How convenient.

Additionally, SLED has been selective in its enforcement of the state’s video poker ban – choosing to sit on compelling evidence of criminal activity on the part of corrupt politicians and crooked cops for several months.

Eventually the agency got off of its ass … but only after it had been shamed into doing so by the press.

This website supported Haley’s nomination of Mark Keel to the position of SLED chief two years ago. In fact we stuck up for him when his integrity came under attack during his confirmation hearing before the S.C. Senate.

Clearly our faith in him was misplaced …

There have been public calls for SLED to permit an independent review of its handling of this latest scandal – and we support such a probe. But this is bigger than just one lie. This is an agency which is rapidly losing any semblance of credibility with the public – which is truly unfortunate because this is the one agency which needs to have the most credibility with the public.