Date registered: Jan 2008
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Quoted: 743 Post(s)
Who's looking @ Joe da plumbers records?
Why? What's the reason?
Inspector general investigating access to Joe the Plumber's personal information
Monday, October 27, 2008 11:33 AM
Updated: Monday, October 27, 2008 05:48 PM
By Randy Ludlow
Ohio's inspector general is investigating why a state agency director approved checking the state child-support computer system for information on "Joe the Plumber."
Helen Jones-Kelly, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, confirmed today that she OK'd the check on Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher following the Oct. 15 presidential debate.
She said there were no political reasons for the check on the sudden presidential campaign fixture though the Support Enforcement Tracking System.
Amid questions from the media and others about "Joe the Plumber," Jones-Kelley said she approved a check to determine if he was current on any ordered child-support payments.
Such information was not and cannot be publicly shared, she said. It is unclear if Wurzelbacher is involved in a child-support case. Reports state that he lives alone with a 13-year-old son.
"Our practice is when someone is thrust quickly into the public spotlight, we often take a look" at them, Jones-Kelley said, citing a case where a lottery winner was found to owe past-due child support. "Our practice is to basically look at what is coming our way."
Ohio Inspector General Thomas P. Charles confirmed today that he is investigating the incident to determine if "Joe''s" records were legally accessed by Job and Family Services employees.
The use of a state computer system to search for information on Wurzelbacher is the fourth uncovered by The Dispatch.
Democrat Gov. Ted Strickland is satisfied that there are no political overtures to the check on Wurzelbacher, a spokesman said.
"Based on what we know to this point, we don't have any reason to believe the information was improperly accessed or disclosed by a state employee," said Keith Dailey, Strickland's press secretary.
The state attorney general's office said today that information on "Joe" was accessed from a test account it shared with contractors who developed a computer network for the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police.
The State Highway Patrol is investigating the "unauthorized access," said Jennifer Brindisi, spokeswoman for Attorney General Nancy H. Rogers. Access to the account was given to the unidentified contractors four years ago, she said.
State Highway Patrol records indicate that investigators have a suspect, who is identified as a contractor for the Ohio Department of Insurance. The patrol has seized an agencycomputer as evidence.
Donna Braxton, acting executive director of the Dublin-based police chiefs group, said she had not been notified of an investigation.
At least four state computer checks on Wurzelbacher were conducted shortly after Republican John McCain frequently brought up "Joe the Plumber" during his final presidential debate with Democrat Barack Obama on Oct. 15.
State and local investigators are attempting to determine if the computer systems were illegally accessed when they were used to pull up information on Wurzelbacher.
Republicans have seized on the incidents to suggest that the checks were politically motivated invasions of Wurzelbacher's privacy and attempts to dig up dirt to discredit the man. Obama's campaign says it has nothing to do with the incidents and joined Republicans in calling for investigations.
The attorney general's office was unaware contractors for the police chiefs' association still had access to state information, Brindisi said. The contractors developed the Ohio Local Law Enforcement Information Sharing Network, which now is operated by the attorney general's office. Security codes since have been changed and access limited to test accounts, she said.
The Dispatch reported Saturday that authorities are investigating why driver's license and vehicle registration information on "Joe" was pulled from Bureau of Motor Vehicles computers.
BMV information on Wurzelbacher also was obtained through accounts assigned to the Cuyahoga County Child Support Enforcement Agency and the Toledo Police Department. Both checks are under investigation.
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