Democratic candidate for governor Vincent Sheheen has stepped up his criticism of Department of Social Services Director Lillian Koller, calling once again for her to step down.
Joining other state senators — including Republican Katrina Shealy — Sheheen wants Koller to step down amidst new questions of child wellbeing in DSS care. At a press conference Tuesday, he held copies of a new report by The State newspaper of a child who died while under DSS jurisdiction.
“The accumulation of the things that have occurred over the last months, and the information that I have received from people inside the agency who are in these field offices who are out in these counties, the information I have heard from coroners who have no stake in this except the well-being of these children, led me today to say that somebody has to add their voice to the calls we have already heard,” Sheheen told reporters.
Koller continues to testify to a Senate panel this month– and disputes how Democratic leaders construe the numbers.
“I don’t believe any of the information that we receive from the department of social services at this point, ” Sheheen said.
The Nikki Haley campaign says Sheheen is playing politics with the death of children.
“There isn’t a tragedy sad enough that he won’t try to score political points with – and it’s a real shame that Vince Sheheen wants to politicize an innocent child’s death,” Haley campaign spokesman Rob Godfrey said in a statement to the State Newspaper.
Sheheen says the tipping point was the newspaper story and a federal case resolution announced last week.
South Carolina Radio Network reported last week that DSS financially settled a federal court case in a child sexual attack in a foster care home chosen by DSS. The Boys Home of the South has now closed.
The agency has not yet responded to questions or requests for comment.