Yay! The Columbus Dispatch (hat tip: Michelle Malkin) has a stern editorial today calling for sanctions against the Ohio state officials who participated in four different unauthorized probes into private information about Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher, the private citizen in Holland, Ohio, near Toledo, who was playing ball with his son in his yard when Barack Obama and his entourage drove by-and happened to ask Obama a question about Obama’s “spread the wealth around” tax plan that Obama and the mainstream-media journos who fawn on him didn’t like.
One of the self-designated sleuths was Michelle Jones-Kelley, director of Ohio’s Job and Family Services Department, who confirmed that she ran a records check as to whether Wurzelbacher owed back child support on a reporter’s request. Jones-Kelley justified the snoop on grounds that “[o]ur practice is when someone is thrust quickly into the public spotlight, we often take a look” at them,” as Jones-Kelley put it. She compared Wurzelbacher to lottery winners and others who have come into large sums of money. Trouble is, Joe the Plumber didn’t win the lottery or. He just dared to ask a legitimate question of a candidate running for our nation’s highest office. And Jones-Kelley, as the Ace of Spades confirmed after a check of public records on campaign filings, Jones-Kelley is a maximum donor (at $2,300) to the Obama campaign. And radio station WNWO reports that Julia McConnell, a records clerk for the Toledo Police Department, has been charged with gross misconduct for allegedly illegal searching a state database on Wurzelbacher.
The Dispatch editorialized:
“Gov. Ted Strickland [of Ohio] should order his agency directors not to snoop on private citizens who land in the campaign spotlight. Such scrutiny could have a chilling effect on the willingness of people to stand up and be counted prior to elections.
“It also undermines the confidence of all Ohioans that their state government is serious about protecting sensitive information…..
“Access to such data is supposed to be restricted to official business of government and law enforcement.
“Ohio Inspector General Thomas P. Charles is investigating whether the data-checking was improper or illegal. Through public-records requests, The Dispatch has determined that there were at least four checks for records on Wurzelbacher. That sounds like an effort to dig up dirt.
“Driver’s-license and vehicle-registration data about Wurzelbacher were obtained from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Also, the State Highway Patrol is investigating unauthorized access to data about Wurzelbacher in the attorney general’s office from a test account that the office shared with contractors who developed a computer network for the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police.
“Unauthorized and unjustified dredging of restricted government databases to find possibly embarrassing information on Americans simply for participating in democracy is unacceptable.
“At the very least, Jones-Kelley should be reproved, and anyone who conducted an illegal search of Wurzelbacher’s records should be prosecuted.”
And as Michelle Malkin has pointed out, we’re still waiting for those guardians of privacy over at the American Civil Liberties Union to respond.