- Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer’s South Carolina state director resigned Tuesday after he was caught stealing Sen. Kamala Harris’ campaign data.
- The aide, Dwane Sims, had access to Harris’ voter and volunteer data through his previous job managing voter data for the South Carolina Democratic Party, the Post Courier first reported.
- On Thursday, the AP reported a high-level aide to Steyer’s campaign in Iowa had offered state and local Iowa politicians campaign donations in exchange for them endorsing Steyer.
- The two back-to-back scandals could tarnish Steyer’s image as a bold political outsider candidate who is explicitly running to clean up Washington.
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Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer’s South Carolina state director resigned after stealing Sen. Kamala Harris’ campaign data, and a senior Steyer aide in Iowa admitted to offering campaign donations to local politicians in exchange for endorsements.
On Monday, the Post and Courier reported that Steyer’s South Carolina state director Dwane Sims had been caught stealing a huge file of Harris’ voter and volunteer data he had access to through his previous job managing voter data for the South Carolina Democratic Party.
Sims was forced to delete the data by the Democratic National Committee, which caught him in the act of exporting the file. He has since resigned from the Steyer campaign.
“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,” Steyer’s campaign manager Heather Hargreaves said in a Tuesday statement.
Then on Thursday, the Associated Press reported that Pat Murphy, a high-level aide to Steyer’s campaign and former Speaker of the Iowa House, had personally offered state and local Iowa politicians campaign donations in exchange for them endorsing Steyer in the presidential primary.
The AP said that the campaign cash-for-endorsements scheme Murphy pitched to lawmakers would have been legal campaign expenditures as long as the Steyer campaign properly disclosed them as such to the Federal Election Commission.
As of now, no Iowa politicians were reported to have taken Murphy up on his offer of campaign donations in exchange for endorsements. A campaign spokesperson told the AP that Murphy was “not authorized” to make such offers to local politicians.
“Our campaign policy is clear that we will not engage in this kind of activity, and anyone who does is not speaking for the campaign or does not know our policy,” press secretary Alberto Lammers told the AP.
The two back-to-back scandals could tarnish Steyer’s image as a bold outsider candidate who is explicitly running as a non-politician and arguing he can use his business savvy to clean up Washington more efficiently than establishment Democrats could.
Steyer became a billionaire through his decades of being a successful investor and hedge fund manager. But he has since focused his efforts on advancing Democratic causes with two organizations, Need To Impeach and NextGen America.
He entered the race late, on July 9, and has pledged to spend $100 million of his own money on his presidential race. For context, the highest-fundraising candidate of 2019’s second quarter – Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana – raised $24.8 million.
Steyer has poured millions into television and digital ads in early states, a strategy that has paid off in terms of raising his visibility. Steyer met the donor and polling requirements for the Democratic debate on October 15, and has also qualified for the next Democratic debate on November 20.
Still, Steyer – who is mostly self-funding his campaign – has been attacked by many of his opponents for buying his spots on the debate stage and trying to buy the Democratic nomination itself, a criticism which is likely to be fueled by a top Iowa aide trying to buy endorsements.