COLUMBIA - Gov. Nikki Haley and Sen. Katrina Shealy got into a dispute on social media after a contentious hearing Wednesday between a Senate panel and the head of the Department of Social Services.

Haley took to Facebook to defend DSS Director Lillian Koller, who spent the morning fending off criticism and allegations against her administration during the past several months before the Senate's DSS Oversight Subcommittee.

"I am so proud of Dir. Lillian Koller and her testimony in front of the Senate sub committee," Haley wrote in her post. "... Amazing that senators are criticizing her for setting goals and accomplishing them."

The last sentence was a jab at Shealy, R-Lexington, who questioned Koller's goal-setting policies, adding she didn't think children should be considered goals. When a Facebook user accused Koller of being an "outspoken Atheist and not fit for our state" in the comment thread, Haley had a terse response.

"Dir. Koller is not an Atheist," Haley wrote. "I wish you and Sen. Shealy would quit spreading that lie. She is Jewish and the daughter of Holocaust survivors."

Shealy responded to Haley on that thread, saying she was "disappointed to read" Haley would say Shealy is spreading rumors. Shealy also posted an update on her page, which she kicked off with "I am so angry!!!!!"

Shealy posted another update Thursday afternoon in which she said "someone" was trying to divert attention from all of the issues regarding the agency with a "Facebook Slam."

"This is not a game but if you want to make it one it will be a much more serious one than before," Shealy wrote. "It will be a War. A War to Save the Children of South Carolina. Let's begin NOW."

Additional details and excerpts from the Facebook posts on our political blog, Palmetto Politics.

Cynthia Roldan can be reached at 708-5891.