Vincent Sheheen: Open Letter On #SCHacked Scandal

To the people of South Carolina: A lot can happen in a year. That’s a good thing since we have the potential to create a brighter future for South Carolina next year. But it’s much harder to swallow when we reflect on all the mistakes, problems and risks that have…

To the people of South Carolina:

A lot can happen in a year. That’s a good thing since we have the potential to create a brighter future for South Carolina next year. But it’s much harder to swallow when we reflect on all the mistakes, problems and risks that have hurt our people just in the one year since the Department of Revenue hacking scandal.

One year ago, after 16 days of covering up the biggest breach of a state government in history, Nikki Haley finally informed the people of South Carolina that her Department of Revenue had allowed their most personal information to be hacked and they were at great risk for identity theft. One year ago, Nikki Haley announced her decision to award a $12 million no-bid contract to Experian, a company that just months prior had been duped into selling personal data to a Vietnamese identity theft organization resulting in an investigation by the Secret Service.

One year ago, life as we knew it changed for millions of people and our children because the elected leader of our state government and her administration let us down. Yet one year ago today, Nikki Haley stood before the people of the state and said no one should be disciplined for this massive breach of public trust and failure of state government.

It’s been a long year since then, full of much worry for families and businesses at risk. It’s been a year of changing stories and incomplete facts from the Haley administration, whose approach to this day is still so cloaked in secrecy that the people of South Carolina are not even allowed to read the full report of just what went wrong. But there is hope for the future, because we can change the way South Carolina does business together, with new leadership and real accountability.

One year later, here is what we now know:

The hacking was a horrible and preventable disgrace. First, under Nikki Haley, South Carolina’s Department of Revenue failed to enroll in the most basic protection services available that act as a first step in protection for other agencies and states around the nation. Second, a key cyber security director position at her Dept of Revenue was left vacant for a year while Governor Haley rewarded her campaign staff with other jobs they had little experience for in the administration. Third, the person in the cybersecurity position had quit prior to the hacking due to frustration that his repeated warnings about the vulnerability of the Dept of Revenue went unheeded by Nikki Haley and her closest advisers.

The hacking was a tragedy, and it was preventable. With different leadership and real accountability, we will do better. South Carolina could have been better prepared to withstand the hacking attempts, like other states, and not become a target because of the major holes in our cyber security that were ignored by the Haley administration despite multiple warnings.

By covering-up the hacking for 16 days, Nikki Haley failed the test of leadership. After learning that millions of people in our state had been exposed to great risk under her watch, Nikki Haley’s first instinct was to cover it up. She waited more than two weeks, hired a lawyer, lined up her public relations firm, and covered her tail before deciding it was the right time to let the people she was elected to serve know they were at risk. Then, when she did finally break the news, the story was ever-changing as she flip-flopped back and forth trying to paint a rosier picture. First she said nothing could have been done to prevent it. That wasn’t true. Then she said that no businesses were affected. That wasn’t true. Then she said no children were affected, that wasn’t true.

The test of leadership is not what you do when things are going smoothly, but what you do in the tough times. And Nikki Haley’s choice to cover the hacking up for more than two weeks, and never really be honest with the people of South Carolina was an even bigger breach of the public trust than the hacking itself. We can do better. We have to do better, with new leadership and real accountability for South Carolina.

Hacking victims continue to suffer because of the poor choices by Nikki Haley and her administration. Governor Haley hand-picked Experian and awarded them a $12 million no-bid contract to monitor credit reports and send you an email once your identity has been stolen. One year later, Experian decided not to continue their contract with the state and instead began using the information collected from hacking victims to solicit them for business and additional fees. Experian is also allowed to sell people’s personal data and information to other research companies, and prior to receiving the no-bid contract from Nikki Haley, had been duped into selling data to identity thieves in Vietnam. Even now, in moving on to the next credit monitoring service for the upcoming year, South Carolinians are suffering through major problems in trying to sign up and not able to get access to the services they’ve been promised leaving another dangerous lag time. It’s inexcusable.

Haley’s no-bid contract with Experian contained no added protections for South Carolina’s families, businesses and children who signed up. There was no limitation on the sale of people’s personal data and no clause to protect them from solicitation. There was a serious lack of due diligence in investigating the company to become aware of any ongoing investigations like the one being conducted by the Secret Service. Decision upon decision, Nikki Haley and her team failed to properly protect hacking victims from further abuse after they had already been subjected to so much risk under her watch. We can do better. We need new leadership and real accountability for South Carolina. Now is the time to make a change.

Bipartisan leadership, real accountability will deliver results and move us forward. I am proud to have worked across the aisle in the state legislature and with the State Treasurer to create the Taxpayer Protection Fund. This fund will help those who suffer a financial loss as a result of the hacking to become whole again. It’s just one step forward in our work to improving South Carolina- of fixing what went wrong with the Governor’s response to the Dept. of Revenue hacking, and reforming state government to increase accountability and oversight. But we have much more to do.

A lot can happen in a year – and that’s a good thing as we look ahead. We can do better than the incompetence, secrecy and repeated failures of leadership that Nikki Haley demonstrated throughout the botched response to this hacking scandal. We can have honest leadership, with real accountability to change the way this state does business – not just on protecting our data and maintaining transparency – but in building a strong economy from within our state that creates prosperity for all our families and businesses. We can get there, together.


Vincent Sheheen

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shifty henry October 29, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Way, way too long an epistle, and extremely weak on holding accountable the governess and her cohorts who were responsible.

? October 29, 2013 at 1:31 pm

“We can get there, together.”

Yea, that’s not cliche’.

Do all these speech writers get the same award certificate from CSOL’s six month matriculation on speech writing? I wonder what’s it’s like to spend $100K on a degree that gets you a $20K/year job.

Simply horrible.

shifty henry October 29, 2013 at 1:35 pm

“NICE” isn’t going to get him elected — what’s needed is someone who will kick ass from the get-go…….

shifty henry October 29, 2013 at 1:37 pm

“Do all these speech writers get the same award certificate ”
Perhaps this sort of writing is part of the essay section on the bar exam, so you may be correct.

hollentour October 29, 2013 at 1:16 pm

How long has he been in office there? Why hasn’t he and the others done something about it? They do whatever they want, regardless of what any governor wants to do.

jimlewisowb October 29, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Vinny, Vinny, Vinny. You need to listen to your Uncle Shifty. You are running for an elective office not writing a fucking novel.

Voters listen up:

Your Governor fucked up when she sent your social security number to Kyrgyzstan
Your Governor fucked up again when she tried to hide the fact that she sent your social security number to Kyrgyzstan
Your Governor fucked up a third time when she gave away $millions$ of your tax dollars to a company to protect you from hacking and that same company was hacked by a 10 year old using two tuna cans and a ball of twine
Your Governor is fucked up – Vote Vinny for Governor

? October 29, 2013 at 1:48 pm

lol….OWB should be teaching a speech writing course!

You won’t get a certificate, but it also won’t cost you $100k(probably a Yuengling or two) and I assure you that you’ll learn something.

Vanguard16 October 29, 2013 at 1:42 pm

Nikki should be hacked!!

miss suzanne October 29, 2013 at 3:27 pm

You all are talking about a woman with no shame. Guess that’s how she was raised.

Fandango October 29, 2013 at 6:03 pm

Nikki is a HACK!

snickering October 29, 2013 at 7:10 pm

You beat me with your comment. Haley is a Professional, Political, Prostitute (like Palin).

Nölff October 29, 2013 at 1:51 pm

“Bipartisan leadership”… That’s what they ALL say. I don’t think anyone can actually pull it off. No no such thing as Bipartisanship anymore.

Smirks October 29, 2013 at 2:11 pm

TL;DR: Haley bad.

No offense Sheheen, but if people don’t know the problems with Haley by now, they’re just entirely clueless and you have no hope of persuading them to not join the rest of the dumb vote. Hopefully she gets a credible challenger in the primary and people wake the hell up, as I seriously doubt the guy who lost to her last time won’t do anything but lose to her the next time.

miss suzanne October 29, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Like I said before, the voters need to follow Will Folk’s lead and dump Haley.

You know me October 29, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Really, Will? What was the attraction? You always dated really pretty girls. Was it because she was easy?

CharlesDikkens October 29, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Where were you, dick-weed? This data sat unprotected for years. Hard to blame it on Haley when you are part of the problem too. And the cover-up and delay made no difference. Once the data was gone, it was gone. Finally, there has been no indication – zero – of use of it to hack into individual accounts. Was this an embarrassment to SC and a glaring illustration of the utter incompetence of gubmit? yep. Was is all Haley’s fault. Nope. Check the mirror, asshole.

You are going to get beaten by a not very bright, banal, unethical, adulterous serial liar and political opportunist. Deal with it.

anon. October 29, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Nikki Haley only cares about Nikki Haley!

dm10ae October 30, 2013 at 3:27 am

Haley blamed the federal government for the SCDOR hacking, but the truth remains that the data was not encrypted because of a price tag of $6 million at the time. You have stupid people at the political helm charged with keeping your data secure. IT professionals know the value of keeping data secure, but their hands are tied if money isn’t available. I’m not sure that has been remedied other than the state buying identity theft software. Has the data been encrypted now? There is a team that is supposedly oversees data security for the state, is that working?

The Colonel October 30, 2013 at 8:48 am

”….The hacking was a horrible and preventable disgrace. First, under Nikki Haley, South Carolina’s Department of Revenue failed to enroll…”

Note to Vince, the system in question predates Haley’s administration – it was flawed at installation. Who appropriates money for the purchase of systems and services? Oh that’s right, the State House…

”… by covering-up the hacking for 16 days, Nikki Haley failed the test of leadership….”

First you empty suit, you wouldn’t know leadership if it snuck up behind you and bit you on your non-existent ass. Secondly, what really went on was an attempt to figure out what happened and the best way to approach it. I’m sorry you had to wait two extra weeks to find out that a system you authorized failed to meet modern security standards. The truth is, if it’s connected to the internet, it’s hackable. My debit card has been replaced three times this year because the stores I’ve used it in failed to protect the data – I haven’t lost a dime though because the bank took care of the problem just exactly as they should have.

”… Hacking victims continue to suffer because of the poor choices by Nikki Haley…

BS, if you could prove this assertion it would be front page news.

”… Bipartisan leadership, real accountability will deliver results and move us for blah blah blah”

Like I said, you’re a “leader” short of being able to provide leadership and only marginally bipartisan (really only when the RINOs are leaning your way)

Nooki’s no prize but you’re just an empty suit.

Mike October 30, 2013 at 10:15 am

Does Vinny believe Obama caused the Obamacare website too? If not, it would be tough for him to remain consistent when pressed by more credible journalists than our good friend and known liar, Will “the wife beater” Folks. Last time I checked Nikki Haley wasn’t the IT person at the Dept of Revenue.

Plain Truth October 30, 2013 at 9:05 pm

Sheehan = Yuppy Yuppy, Dork Dork, Rich Twit Born With A Silver Spoon In His Mouth Pathological Narcissistic Pecker Jerk.

Gilda October 31, 2013 at 10:20 pm

What has Rep. James Smith got to do with this story and your description of him? Oh. I get it now. Sorry. Nevermind.

Todd October 31, 2013 at 2:53 pm

Vinny, Vinny, Vinny, your continued support of Jean Toal is going to be your demise. No, you cannot promise her 8 more votes in the house, Your BFF is doing all that whiny talk for her also and the more y’all bash Costa, and sing Jean’s praises, the dumber and more corrupt you two look. Joel showed his true colors in the Lillian McBride debacle so he is not credible anyway. Come clean – break from the old guard and help us out, Vinny.

Slartibartfast November 1, 2013 at 5:59 pm

The only honest person in your chosen picture for this article is not in it. I’m not saying who that is, but Phil Leventis is also retired from the Senate.


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