Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Media made request for Joe the Plumber's records, Toledo mayor admits

Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner admitted yesterday that a member of the media made the request of the Toledo Police Department for Joe 'the Plumber' Wurzelbacher's records, NewsTalk 1370 WSPD is reporting. The comments were made in response to questions during an unrelated press conference.

Finkbeiner did not say which news outlet, nor which reporter, made the request. He also did not identify the individual who ran the report.

As I've explained, accessing the LEADS computer data is a serious violation that can result in internal discipline, criminal charges and even loss of access for the law enforcement agency. Having overseen access to LEADS as the Clerk of Toledo Municipal Court, I know for a fact that Toledo Police Chief Mike Navarre knows who ran the report, when and where.

The sad part about this incident is that records from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and all court records are public and can be obtained through regular public records requests, so there was no need to ask someone in the Police Department to violate rules and state law in order to get the information. The only advantage to having the LEADS report over the public records would be the speed with which it could be obtained.

But this certainly raises questions about how often this same media outlet or reporter has made similar requests in the past - and how they've used the data they obtained.

In related news: The director of the Ohio Department of Jobs & Family Services Director Helen Jones-Kelly, told the Columbus Dispatch that she approved a check on Wurzelbacher just after the Oct. 15 presidential debate to see whether he was current on child support payments.

She says there were no political reasons behind the decision, stating that the department often runs such checks on people - like when they win the lottery. That's a completely different matter, in which winnings can be taken to pay any back chid support that might be owed. A mention during a political debate should NOT result in a query, especially because at the time of the mention, there was nothing to indicate Joe was even married, or divorced, or had kids or even owed child support.

As for the approval not being political? According to OpenSecrets.org, Helen Jones-Kelley made the maximum donation of $2,300 to the Barack Obama presidential campaign on July 31, 2008.

H/T Riehl World

6 comments:

Carol said...

And this is surprising because ... ?

IMO this is a blatant case of "it's ok for some, but not for others."

Since Carty knows about it, and apparently Chief Navarre knows about it - and both did nothing - doesn't that make them complicit in this abuse/misuse of the system?

Wouldn't it be just another feather in Toledo's cap to be known as the city that lost access to a vital law enforcement tool because of this?

I gotta go ---- I have a headache now. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Maggie Thurber said...

Carol - there is nothing to indicate the mayor or chief knew of this before or at the time of the request. In fact, I think it's more likely that they found out about it only upon being told by the state, after a public records request from the Columbus Dispatch revealed that the records had been accessed.

Knowing how the system works, there's little a supervisor can do if one employee decides to violate the rules that govern usage of the system. The only thing you can do is constantly emphasize the appropriate uses and, when someone violates that, discipline severely for the violation and as a warning to all others of the serious consequences of such violations.

Tim Higgins said...

Maggie,

And yet the Mayor names only "a member of the media", which cannot help but make one suspicious of the hand of JRB being involved.

As for Director Jones-Kelly's statement, it simply calls for one to "suspend one's sense of incredulity" (I think that I have heard this before). They simply decided to check on this guy because of recent notoriety, and not with any political motivation ... please.

Maggie Thurber said...

I believe the phrase you're looking for is:

"a willing suspension of disbelief"

thank Hillary Clinton

Firehand said...

What I'm wondering is if they also ran Joe NCIC and III? If they did, that's violation of Federal law and the FBI should be involved. Especially III(Interstate Identification Index).

Maggie Thurber said...

firehand - yes, the regular LEADS query also accesses NCIC and NLETS...I don't know if it automatically hits III.

Google Analytics Alternative