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Tom Steyer Just Found Kamala Harris's SC Voter Data Lying Around, What Is That, A CRIME?

2020 democratic primary

We figured Tom Steyer thought he could buy the Democratic primary, but it looks like he's considered stealing it outright for kicks, like a boring Thomas Crown. Steyer ripped off valuable volunteer data from Kamala Harris's campaign last week. Yes, technically, Steyer didn't personally orchestrate the heist. His deputy South Carolina state director Dwane Sims exported thousands of volunteer contacts the Harris campaign painstakingly collected over the course of its campaign in the key primary state. The Steyer campaign originally feigned ignorance: It was an "inadvertent download," which isn't a real thing. Any porn or proprietary data from a rival campaign that's on your computer is there intentionally.

The Steyer campaign claimed Sims "proactively" notified the Democratic Party officials of the data breach, but the Democratic National Committee and South Carolina Democratic Party both deny the Gallant version of events.The DNC itself caught Goofus's attempted cyber theft. The party issued a "cease and desist letter" and reportedly received "certification" from Sims that the data was destroyed. The paper Sim's "certification" is printed on probably is only good for training puppies.


Sims was placed on administrative leave over the weekend while an internal investigation was conducted. He resigned Monday after it was clear no one in their right mind would believe his "Whoops! There's Kamala's data!" story. Sims isn't a computer whiz who broke into the Harris campaign's files using TV hacker "fast-typing" skills. He used to work for the South Carolina Democratic Party as a voter file manager, which gave him access to each campaign's valuable data regarding potential volunteers and voter contacts. When Sims left the state party in September, his access was disabled, but he managed to get his sticky fingers on Harris's data through a separate training account someone in IT must've forgot existed. This is almost as dumb as Tom Cruise in Minority Report still having iris scan access to everything when he's wanted for murder.

Steyer campaign spokesman Alberto Lammers blamed Sims's former employers for not triple-checking that he couldn't act dishonorably.

LAMMERS: We are talking about 180 seconds in a system that is notoriously inaccurate... The bottom line is that nothing would have taken place if the DNC had been more diligent about the security of voter data.

Thieves don't get to lecture the bank for its lousy security, even if the only guard fell asleep with a half-eaten Popeye's chicken sandwich in his mouth. The Bernie Sanders campaign responded similarly when its grassroots hands were caught in Hillary Clinton's cookie jar. Sanders staffers in 2015 "reviewed, harvested, and stored" lists of voters the Clinton campaign had gathered in 10 early states, including Iowa and New Hampshire. When the Democratic National Committee cut the Sanders campaign off from its own data, Sanders threatened legal action and claimed the DNC was trying to "undermine" him. This was the last time he'd ever make such a hyperbolic statement.

The Sanders campaign initially dismissed the data breach as a "vendor" mistake, but eventually fired its national data director, Josh Uretsky. Sims also walked the plank. However, the muck avoided sticking to the actual candidate. And maybe it should so this will stop happening. Steyer issued a half-assed apology Monday, which is a slightly better mea culpa than suing people.

It might seem odd that Sims went straight to Harris's data. She's hanging out in the middle of the alphabet. She's also a distant fourth place in the RealClearPolitics polling averages for South Carolina. But the Harris campaign has invested heavily in the state and built an extensive organization. Politico ran Harris's political obituary yesterday, so stealing data from her is like robbing a store during its going-out-of-business sale. It's downright sleazy. Yet, we haven't heard a peep out of the same Democrats who defended Tulsi Gabbard from Hillary Clinton's truth bombs.

So far only white male candidates have tried to copy their rivals' work, and it's true we can't predict how the media would respond if Harris was guilty of anything similar. However, she was accused of "stealing" the name "Medicare for All" from Sanders, so it seems unlikely she'd be able to walk away from actual, non-imaginary theft. It would likely fuel the annoying narrative that she's "calculating," "ambitious," and -- now that her campaign is struggling -- "desperate." Her every move is considered a "stunt" rather than the carefully considered actions someone makes when they're running for president with more presence of mind than Marianne Williamson. If we get headlines about how Harris is "forced to address" an unrelated sexual harassment suit at her husband's place of business, a scuzzy data breach of this magnitude would've ruined her. Only men like Steyer are allowed "mistakes."

[The Post and Courier]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.

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