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November 01, 2008

Shocker: Worker Ordered to Run Illegal Check on Joe the Plumber Says There's No Such Thing as a "Thrust into the Spotlight" Check, That She Was Lied to About Reason for Check, and She Was Instructed to Lie About the Reason for Check Afterwards

I gotta tell ya, I'm stunned by all this.

Vanessa Niekamp said that when she was asked to run a child-support check on Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher on Oct. 16, she thought it was routine. A supervisor told her the man had contacted the state agency about his case.

"The man" being Joe Wurzelbacher. He himself can presumably ask for a check into himself.

Why did the supervisor feel the need to lie about why the check was being done? Why did he invent a legal reason, if the real reason was, as they claim, perfectly legitimate?

You know, the well-known "we'll dig into the files of suddenly-famous people as part of a 'well-meaning' search into their private lives" doctrine.

Niekamp said she didn't know she just had checked on "Joe the Plumber," who had been elevated the night before to presidential-politics prominence in a debate as Republican John McCain's example of an average American.

The reason Niekamp said she was given for checking if there was a child-support case on Wurzelbacher does not match the reason given by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Director Helen Jones-Kelley said her agency checks people who are "thrust into the public spotlight," amid suggestions they might have come into money, to see if they owe support or are receiving undeserved public assistance.

Niekamp told The Dispatch she is unfamiliar with the practice of checking on the newly famous. "I've never done that before, I don't know of anybody in my office who does that, and I don't remember anyone ever doing that," she said yesterday.

... State officials say any information on "Joe" is confidential and was not released.

Um, of course it was. See the media's feeding frenzy.

Do they mean nothing was released on him about owing child support payments? Well, that's because he doesn't owe any child support.

Are we to believe if he had owed money there, it wouldn't have been released?

Wurzelbacher has said he is not involved in a child-support case.

...

About 3 p.m. on Oct. 16, Niekamp said, Carrie Brown, assistant deputy director for child support, asked her to run Wurzelbacher through the computer...

On Oct. 23, Niekamp said Doug Thompson, deputy director for child support, told her she had checked on "Joe the Plumber." Thompson "literally demanded" that she write an e-mail to the agency's chief privacy officer stating she checked the case for child-support purposes, she said.

...

Worried about her $69,000-a-year job and potential criminal charges, the 15-year state employee said she went to Inspector General Thomas P. Charles on Oct. 24. She has seen employees fired, and dismissed one herself, for illegally accessing personal information in support cases. Niekamp, a registered Republican, said politics played no role in what she told investigators.

The e-mail that Niekamp said she wrote was not among records provided yesterday to The Dispatch in response to a public-records request. Nor did the agency, as required by state law, say it withheld any records.

Strickland spokesman Dailey later said one e-mail was withheld from The Dispatch because its release is prohibited by federal or state laws that forbid the release of information on the state's child-support system.

Ah. "We can't provide to you an email complaining of an egregious government invasion of privacy, nor even note, as the law demands, that we are withholding it, because of laws forbidding egregious government invasions of privacy."

Got it.

More at Hot Air, which asks "A Cover-Up in Plumbergate?"

I think the question mark can be safely dispensed with.

Also via Hot Air, Keith Olbermann's highly nuanced position on what constitutes constitution-shredding government spying.

Thanks to WilliamA.

Name that Party! bgates snarks--

Helen Jones-Kelley, Carrie Brown, and Doug Thompson are all nonpartisan government officials just doing their jobs. I know, because the only person with a party affiliation mentioned in the Dispatch is Vanessa Niekamp, registered Republican. She also appears to be the only person not working as a volunteer.

Nice, I missed that. The article does note that Ted Strickland is a Democrat, and says that Jones-Kelley is an Obama supporter, but it doesn't actually say she's a Democrat, nor does it note the party affiliation of Brown and Thompson.

Yes, of course all the others are Democrats, but the Dispatch doesn't seem to think that's relevant. Only the political motives of the whistleblower are suspect, I guess.

Helen Jones-Kelley is an above-the-maximum Obama contributor (she donated $2500, $200 plus the legal limit of $2300). That's not noted here; just that she's a supporter. (Incidentally, when will Obama refund that illegal donation?)

The Dispatch is pursuing this case, but again we see its biases come through -- always, always Republicans are identified, and Democrats are not.

Because the press take is always the same: Republicans are politically motivated evil-doers. But when a Democrat breaks the law, it's the fault of that particular person alone, and party affiliation has no relevance whatsoever.

DrewM. Already Posted This: I knew he'd posted it, but I thought maybe this was a fresher article with more details, because William A tipped me and I just also saw it on Hot Air.

Nope. Same article posted yesterday.

But I don't think I can hit this hard enough, and there is more quoted here, so consider it a reminder.


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posted by Ace at 03:51 PM

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