Dwane Sims, Steyer’s deputy state director in South Carolina who once worked for the South Carolina Democratic Party, was placed on paid administrative leave before resigning, the campaign stated on Nov. 4.
Steyer’s campaign stated that Sims gained access to volunteer data from the Harris campaign, which the state Democratic Party accidentally had given the Steyer campaign access to.
“Last week, the South Carolina Democratic Party turned off voter file access to the Steyer campaign for a short period of time. When it was reinstated, Dwane Sims, a former South Carolina Democratic Party employee, had access to other presidential campaign data. Within minutes of realizing this, Sims called the South Carolina Democratic Party to alert them, and the access was turned off by the party authorities,” campaign manager Heather Hargreaves said in a statement.
“The Steyer campaign takes this issue very seriously. When we first learned about the matter, we conducted an internal investigation and wiped Mr. Sims’ computer to make sure the data was completely deleted and that there was no access to other campaign data. We understand the sensitivity and importance of this information.
“We apologize to the South Carolina Democratic Party and the DNC. Tom Steyer and the Steyer campaign extend our deepest apology to Senator Kamala Harris and her campaign.”
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) and South Carolina Democratic Party both portrayed the situation differently, saying the attempt to steal the data was caught by the national committee on Nov. 1. The system showed that Sims downloaded the data at 3 p.m., three minutes after he notified the party he had access to the files, DNC spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa told the Charleston Post and Courier.
Steyer campaign spokesman Alberto Lammers faulted the DNC, saying: “We are talking about 180 seconds in a system that is notoriously inaccurate. And the DNC is not disputing the key fact that our employee proactively approached them to inform them of the matter. The bottom line is that nothing would have taken place if the DNC had been more diligent about the security of voter data.”
Trav Robertson, chairman of the state Democratic Party, said in a statement: “We take this matter very seriously, and that is why we immediately worked with the DNC to disable this employee’s access to VoteBuilder.”
“All data downloaded by this individual was destroyed and was not provided to any third parties.”
Steyer took to Twitter to issue a statement, writing: “I was deeply disappointed to learn of this situation, and have personally reached out to @KamalaHarris. To every organizer who is putting in the work for a candidate they believe in: I’m grateful for your efforts. Your hard work is what will defeat Donald Trump in 2020.”
I was deeply disappointed to learn of this situation, and have personally reached out to @KamalaHarris. To every organizer who is putting in the work for a candidate they believe in: I’m grateful for your efforts. Your hard work is what will defeat Donald Trump in 2020. https://t.co/5uAj2cyAuA
— Tom Steyer (@TomSteyer) November 5, 2019
Harris staffers reacted to the situation, including Harris’s national press secretary Ian Sams.
“Our organizers and volunteers work incredibly hard, and as this story notes, our campaign ‘has built a particularly extensive field organizing operation in South Carolina.’ It’s unfortunate anyone would try to steal that work from our team,” Sams wrote on Twitter.
Our organizers and volunteers work incredibly hard, and as this story notes, our campaign “has built a particularly extensive field organizing operation in South Carolina.” It’s unfortunate anyone would try to steal that work from our team. https://t.co/Meo6GuqYeF
— Ian Sams (@IanSams) November 5, 2019
Harris herself hasn’t commented on the issue.