COLUMBIA - Gov. Nikki Haley and the Department of Social Services are the target of the Democratic Governors Association first TV ad in South Carolina.

The ad is part of a "significant six-figure buy" and is airing earlier in the cycle than those that aired in 2010, according to a release by the association. It features a former DSS staff attorney, who allegedly resigned "rather than cook the books and put more kids at risk."

"Governor Haley has put her own political career ahead of the lives of South Carolina's most vulnerable children," said Danny Kanner, DGA spokesman.

"It's time for Governor Haley to start protecting kids instead of her own political career," he said.

The goal of the ad, titled "Interview," is to highlight how children were left in dangerous and at times, deadly situations, the DGA said in the release. DSS Director Lillian Koller resigned in June, just days after the Senate discussed making a vote of no confidence on her leadership. Several lawmakers had also called on Haley to fire Koller.

Haley's gubernatorial challenger, State Sen. Vincent Sheheen of Camden, also ran an ad earlier this year that targeted alleged DSS failures.

"Vince Sheheen's liberal allies in Washington are trying to rescue his flailing campaign, but they're missing the facts," said Rob Godfrey, Haley campaign spokesman. "As a mother, Governor Haley is intensely concerned about the children under DSS care. The death of even one child is too many and tragic, and Governor Haley continues to press for reforms of the agency to continue to improve its services."