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Tom Steyer staffer accused of stealing voter data from Kamala Harris

Tom Steyer staffer accused of stealing data
Tom Steyer staffer accused of stealing data from Kamala Harris 05:57

A Tom Steyer campaign staffer accused of stealing voter data from Kamala Harris' campaign has resigned. Steyer's campaign manager, Heather Hargreaves, released a statement explaining that last week, the South Carolina Democratic Party had turned off voter file access to his campaign briefly — and that when it was restored, Steyer staffer Dwane Sims, who had once worked for the state party, "had access to other presidential data."

"Within minutes of realizing this," Hargreaves said, "Sims called the South Carolina Democratic Party to alert them, and the access was turned off by the party authorities."

Steyer's national press secretary Alberto Lammers said that although the campaign wiped all voter data files from Sims' computer, Sims had already deleted the files in question.

Nonetheless, the Steyer campaign said that it put Sims on leave while it investigated. It "wiped Mr. Sims' computer to make sure the data was completely deleted and that there was no access to other campaign data."

The campaign did not overtly admit any wrongdoing, but it did state that "after that internal investigation, [Sims] resigned from the campaign."

The chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party said in a statement that the party "recently learned of a breach by an employee of the Steyer campaign, who obtained access to some of Senator Harris' volunteer data in South Carolina. This was a former SCDP employee, who was off-boarded at the end of September, and as we learned on Friday, maintained a separate user account, which is in clear violation of the VoteBuilder protocol."

"We take this matter very seriously, and that is why we immediately worked with the DNC to disable this employee's access to VoteBuilder," the statement continued. "All data downloaded by this individual was destroyed and was not provided to any third parties. It is critical that the Steyer campaign take immediate action regarding their employee. This user account did not have access to data from any other presidential campaign."

Hargreaves' statement includes an apology to the Harris campaign. "Tom Steyer and the Steyer campaign extend our deepest apology to Senator Kamala Harris and her campaign," Hargreaves wrote.

Harris campaign press secretary Ian Sams tweeted, "[O]ur 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."

After an event in Las Vegas, Steyer said he had not had an opportunity to review the evidence himself, but vowed to "find the truth" and "do the right thing, period."

Late Monday night, Steyer tweeted, "I was deeply disappointed to learn of this situation, and have personally reached out to @KamalaHarris."

On Tuesday, the Harris campaign sent an email to supporters saying it was "outraged to learn Steyer's team had taken volunteer contacts — some of our campaign's most valuable data — directly from the voter file." The Harris campaign then went on to parlay the incident into a fundraising pitch:

"We can't let this stand," the email reads."We're counting on you to help us fight back. Rush your first donation to our campaign right now."

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