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Local lawmakers eye accountability after breach

Posted: January 8, 2013 5:42 p.m.
Updated: January 9, 2013 5:00 a.m.
Michael Ulmer/C-I

State Rep. Laurie Slade Funderburk (left) shares a laugh with fellow State Rep. Grady Brown during the ALPHA Center’s annual legislative luncheon Friday. Other members of the delegation on hand for the luncheon were state senators Vincent Sheheen and Thomas McElveen, along with Camden Mayor Tony Scully and Elgin Mayor Brad Hanley, who also spoke about serving the community at the event.

 

Members of Kershaw County’s legislative delegation offered similar snapshots of the need for more accountability at the state level during a luncheon Friday hosted by the ALPHA Center. 

Noting last fall’s breach at the S.C. Department of Revenue (SCDOR), State Rep. Laurie Funderburk expressed increasing concern, indicating the issue will be a focal point of the General Assembly’s upcoming session.

“One thing that we have to consider is how much this is going to cost us in the long run,” Funderburk said. “That will be quite an emphasis this year. It’s already cost us $20 million.”

In October, SCDOR announced that approximately 3.6 million Social Security numbers and 387,000 credit and debit card numbers were exposed as part of a cyber attack. Most of the data had not been encrypted by the state, meaning the hacker didn’t need a security key to read the stolen information.

SCDOR received a $20 million loan in December to pay costs associated with the breach.

State Sen. Vincent Sheheen agreed with Funderburk concerning the gravity of the situation.

“It’s really bad what’s going on and what we’re learning is only worse than what you could really imagine,” Sheheen said.

Indicating a “bright spot” for the General Assembly, Sheheen reported that the state is actually expecting more revenue to be generated this year.

“That will help those of you who rely on the local government fund,” he said, referring in particular to county council and the sheriff’s department.

Funderburk also outlined positive details originating from the State House, especially related to ethics reform.

She referred to the House holding its first open ethics hearing last June when allegations were brought forward that Gov. Nikki Haley illegally lobbied on behalf of employers while she was a House member. The committee eventually cleared Haley on a 5-1 vote with Funderburk being the only dissenting member.   

“One of the things really brought to light was that many of our ethics laws are narrow, specifically for income disclosure,” Funderburk said. “Somebody could be working for a company who has many contracts with state government, yet never have to disclose that. So that in particular is one thing we need to address this session.”

After the ethics hearing, lawmakers decided to revamp the House Ethics Committee, bumping up the number of members to 10.

Funderburk, a member of the minority Democratic Party, indicated that the committee structure is now bipartisan.

“Before, it was one member from the minority party and five members from the majority party. Now it’s five members from each party,” she said. “Ethics is not a partisan issue and so I’m glad we’ve already been able to make that change.”

Funderburk indicated that election law reform will also be a priority moving forward, pointing to approximately 250 statewide candidates left off the ballot during the 2012 elections.

“I think we’ll see that addressed quickly on. I’m sure that will include that all filings will be electronic as well as income disclosures and campaign disclosures to see who is contributing to your campaign. Incumbents and candidates alike will have to file on the same day,” Funderburk said.

State Rep. Grady Brown, who has served in the legislature since 1984, and recently elected State Sen. Thomas McElveen were also featured speakers at the luncheon.

Both new faces to the legislative delegation, they expressed gratitude and optimism at the opportunity to serve Kershaw County.

“I have one basic political philosophy,” Brown said. “If you’re black or white, rich or poor, Democrat or Republican, if you call my office and ask for help, I try my best to provide it. To me, that’s the hallmark of being a legislator.”

McElveen, a 34-year-old first-time elected official, said he was particularly excited about working with veterans legislators like Brown, Funderburk and Sheheen.

“I’m the kind of person where I believe in teamwork and I’m not afraid to ask questions or get advice. I’m going to have the same open door policy as the others have and I’m looking forward to being a part of this team,” McElveen said.

Camden Mayor Tony Scully and Elgin Mayor Brad Hanley also addressed the audience, each offering a continued willingness to work cohesively and serve the community.

 

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