The big weakness in Sheheen’s hacking-outrage strategy

To mark the anniversary of the hacking scandal (remember that? turns out that most South Carolinians had their identities stolen due to the fecklessness of the state Department of Revenue), Vincent Sheheen put out a press release giving incumbent Gov. Nikki Haley hell about it:

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. …

And so forth. The State called Sheheen’s letter on the subject “scathing.” Chris Haire of the Charleston City Paper called it “devastating.” (Of course, he also said there’s no way Sheheen is beating Haley next year, which would mean the gov is likely to be less than devastated.)

But there’s just one problem with this strategy for tapping voter ire on this subject — I’m seeing a distinct lack of voter ire.

Maybe y’all have seen something else; I don’t know. If so, report in. Let me know about it.

But my impression is that most of us have been waiting around for a year to see whether this thing is going to have any impact on our lives.

We’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop. Or maybe even for the first shoe to drop, depending on how you read the metaphor.

The end of Seanna Adcox’s story for The Associated Press sort of explains why we’re not all seizing pitchforks and torches and marching toward the governor’s mansion:

Sheheen touted his work in helping create an Identity Theft Reimbursement Fund in the state budget. The largely symbolic program calls for the state to reimburse expenses that an identity theft victim incurs because of a state breach. Someone seeking money would have to apply to the state treasurer’s office.

As of Tuesday, no one had, according to Treasurer Curtis Loftis’ office.

It’s unknown if anyone’s identity has been stolen because of the hacking. A Federal Trade Commission attorney has said the selling and trading of stolen information makes it virtually impossible to trace an identity theft case to any particular security breach.

Yeahhhhh. OK. Well….

If a bunch of us start feeling the effects of this ID theft, and think we have reason to blame it on negligence by the Haley administration, then maybe the Democrat will have some resentment to tap into. But so far, not so much.

So what’s Sheheen’s plan B?

13 thoughts on “The big weakness in Sheheen’s hacking-outrage strategy

  1. Doug Ross

    Good points.. the event occurred a year ago and there don’t appear to be any victims. (Is Sheheen really hoping now that SOMEBODY gets his identity stolen?)

    He needs to stop talking about Haley and start talking about Sheheen. What specifically would be different in a Sheheen administration? What are the first 3-5 things he would commit to accomplish in the first 100 days? How does he demonstrate that he can influence a legislature that really holds the power in this state – especially as a Democrat? What can he do to energize black Democrats?

  2. Juan Caruso

    Also, there are as many venues for identity theft in SC as in other states. Besides the SC Dept of Revenue, citizens are exposed to their routine credit card use:

    The Post and Courier reported that personal financial information of approximately 7,000 customers of the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) was stolen when credit card processing company Blackhawk Consulting Group was hacked last month. Hmmm.

  3. Scout

    I have heard some grumbling among people who I think are diehard republicans. My sense is they are not big on Haley, but I doubt that means they will run to Sheheen. I think they would like another republican, just not her. So what does that mean they will do if she is the nominee – abstain or vote for her anyway? I don’t know.

    1. Brad Warthen

      That has been the case since she first ran for governor — even before, if you consider the GOP leadership.

      I had a weird experience the other day. Someone said they thought I was “left of center.”

      Turns out this person thought this on the basis of my criticism of Nikki Haley.

      I said a number of things in response. But I was too taken aback to say the obvious: “I’m critical of the governor? You mean, I view her the way most of the GOP leadership does?”

      Actually, my view of her is probably more positive than that of some of the Republican leaders. They just generally don’t express their views frankly in public. That’s because many of their constituents, the vast majority of Republicans, think she must be good because she has R after her name.

      Republican office holders know better. They know there are Republicans, and then there are Republicans. But it’s tough to explain to folks who don’t live and breathe politics and government.

      1. Brad Warthen

        Oh, and before some of you say, “you ARE left of center” — simply because you define yourselves as conservative, and we don’t always agree — I invite you to consider that I don’t agree any more often with the actual liberals on this blog.

        I’m not a bit comfortable in either camp.

        In Jack Kennedy’s day, I could have considered myself a Democrat, even a liberal. In Eisenhower’s day — or even Nixon’s, or Bush 41’s — I could have been comfortable as a Republican. (In fact, in 1960 I vastly, vehemently preferred Nixon to Kennedy — but I don’t expect you to attach much to that, since I was only 7).

        But not now. There’s just too much that each side embraces (including their huge mutual hostility) that I can’t go along with.

        1. Doug Ross

          When you’re left, you’re way left: immigration, health care, and taxes

          When you’re right, you’re way right: defense/national security, abortion, laws that intrude on personal freedom

          You’re a political hermaphrodite.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            No, my view on immigration is centrist, if not center-right. It’s the same place where you would find George W. Bush, John McCain and Lindsey Graham. None of whom is far left.

            I find myself in more or less the same place as the Chamber of Commerce and the Wall Street Journal editorial board.

            The people I disagree with tend to be both to the left and right. Traditionally, liberals — especially those closely tied to labor unions — have opposed letting all that cheap labor into the country.

            Only some conservatives are hard-liners on immigration. They tend to be cultural conservatives rather than pro-business types. Of course, even that is inadequate as an explanation, because I’m in many ways a cultural conservative, but not in this way.

            Few issues truly break down logically along left-right lines (which is why I find the whole left-right paradigm inadequate for describing political reality). Immigration is just one good example of this truth.

          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            I’m pretty much a centrist on taxation, too. Yes, Doug, I believe taxes should not be regressive, placing a disproportionate burden on the poor (something that you disagree with), but that has long been the consensus position in this country. It’s about as centrist as you can get.

            I have no ideology on taxes, so that makes me seem extreme to people who DO have an ideology with regard to them. I want to lower taxes that need to be lowered (our sales taxes) and raise taxes that need to be raised (our gas tax), for very practical, pragmatic reasons. I want to do away with this gross imbalance in property taxes, in which homeowners contribute nothing to the operation of schools, and businesses are hobbled and renters overburdened by having to make up the difference.

            I want comprehensive tax reform. And every tax that is lowered or raised, created or done away with, should be treated that way because it makes good, pragmatic sense, not because of any ideological notion that taxes “ought to be” higher or lower.

            So basically, on taxes, I’m neither left nor right.

        2. Doug Ross

          You want the sales tax lowered but the exempted items reduced, correct? Do you expect that net sales tax revenue would be the same, lower, or higher? I would be fine with raising gas taxes if the property tax on vehicles was eliminated. But higher gas taxes will just be the start. Several states are looking into ways to monitor actual miles driven using GPS style devices and then charge a tax based on those miles. If they do that, we all know that GPS data will then become available to law enforcement.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            “You want the sales tax lowered but the exempted items reduced, correct? Do you expect that net sales tax revenue would be the same, lower, or higher?”

            I don’t have enough information to know that. How much we could lower the sales tax would be based on how much of that slack we can take up with property and income taxes, as well as how many exemptions we could get rid of.

            The point would be to adequately fund state government in a manner that is reliable, fair, spread thinly across multiple kinds of taxes and places the least possible drag on economic activity. All of those things have to be balanced against each other.

  4. Brad Warthen Post author

    Back to our topic, I actually expected this to generate more conversation.

    I mean, here we are a year in, and we’re seeing no complaints of anyone having suffered from the hacking? Is that true? Does anyone out there have evidence to the contrary?

    Maybe I should do a separate post that simply poses those questions…

    1. Doug Ross

      There are already a lot of systems in place to prevent identity theft. Banks and credit card companies seem to do a pretty good job of it – to the point of overdoing it on occasion. I’ve received calls from a credit card company when my wife has gone on a spending spree just to confirm its not a stolen card situation. Sadly, it wasn’t.

      Also, it would seem to be very difficult to tie back any identity theft directly to the DOR hacking. How does anyone prove that the source of the identity theft came from that data unless the thief admits it?

      This attempt by the Sheheen campaign to tarnish Haley is going to fall flat.


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