consultants are sandburs

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Kissing conservatives back in the news. So, what's public data, and what's the law about emailing it absent any specific disclosure request? Where's the crime?

And while it has been mooted in fact, would either of them have been better as a CD2 GOP candidate seeking endorsement and/or a primary win, in comparison to Jason Lewis?

Aside from that thought, the Strib item is about a purported breach of law (and as is a problem with Strib, they give no statutory cite so readers can on their own see what it says; nor do they post and link to the actual criminal complaint document).

It has the appearance of a witch hunt on the surface.

Regardless of how the incident might reflect on future electability of either or both of the pair, the incident was irrelevant to the capability of either to legislate - their policy and political biases are a bigger worry to me, with Kelly appearing to be the more level headed and less the poseur before the event became public knowledge.

Strib reports:

Dakota County employee charged for sharing data on Mack, Kelly --- The charge of violating state privacy laws carries a penalty of up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
By Patrick Coolican Star Tribune December 2, 2015 — 3:43pm

A prosecutor alleges a Dakota County employee violated state privacy laws when he forwarded a confidential e-mail from his work to his home — an e-mail that gave identifying details of two lawmakers who were cited after a park ranger found them “making out” in a parked car in Apple Valley.

Thomas Berry, 45, was one of 33 employees forwarded an August 26 report that detailed the “parks activity.” It included nine incidents and five names and other details like date of birth and addresses.

The new complaint does not name those included in the initial report that Berry received, but it does give initials of the five individuals who had run-ins with authorities.

[...] The misdemeanor charge of violating the state privacy law carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Berry did not respond to e-mail and phone messages to his workplace.

[...] The revelations about Mack and Kelly, who were both married to other people, has caused a considerable political headache for House Republicans trying to defend their majority in next year’s election. Both Mack and Kelly were considered safe incumbents until the incident.

Mack said she wanted to talk with her attorney before commenting.

Kelly did not respond to a phone message seeking comment.

Berry has been summoned to appear in court Dec. 10.

The mob has its code of silence, Omerta, but does the GOP?

And are not police reports public data? Emailing public data without it responding to a public data disclosure request does not seem to indicate any particular breach of privacy. So, what's the alleged data transfer beyond what was public data subject to press coverage and public scrutiny? That seems a fundamental question omitted from Strib's coverage.

Last, several questions and thoughts: the Mack-Kelly incident happened in a car in a public park facility parking lot. What expectation of privacy exists there, vs something in a home driveway or at a motel? Or does this entire thing hinge on things basically unrealted to Mack or Kelly, but Strib felt it needed to revisit the situation? Strib's opening notes, "a prosecutor alleges ..." and that is somewhat unfair. If not mistaken, the County Attorney files felony criminal charging papers while misdemeanors can be filed by the County Attorney or a town 's attorney. So, which office filed? Backstrom, as head of his office is responsible for decisions of his office, but was it from his office or elsewhere? Any reader who can shed some light on these questions, (either via links to other reporting or from other knowledge), is urged to submit a helpful comment (with or without linking to online coverage).

A frustration is that after a cursory websearch it was found that PiPress and CBSlocal both also report online on the filing, yet the only additional info in the two is that Berry works for the Dakota County Water Resources Department.

It seems a relevant thing to ask, by what means did such a "confidential email" reach a water department person?

It seems that Dakota County's own internal ways and means of handling of arguably sensitive information is more remiss and subject to scrutiny, than is any specific conduct of this Mr. Berry. Is some guy being made to walk the plank as a diversionary step from anybody asking that question about higher ups and county practices?

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