(Updated) Attorney General Richard Blumenthal released a 33-page report Thursday that found Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz may have misused parts of a state database for political purposes. He concluded parts of the database were “inappropriate.”
But Blumenthal, who is running his own campaign for the U.S. Senate, won’t be digging any deeper into the issue. He said he will forward a copy of the investigation to the Chief State’s Attorney, State Elections Enforcement Commission, and legislative leaders and ask them to advocate for stronger laws regarding database collection by unclassified employees, such as Bysiewicz.
Blumenthal’s investigation of the more than 36,000 names, addresses, and sometimes race or ethnicity of individuals took several months and involved interviews with several employees in Bysiewicz’s office, lawmakers, and campaign workers.
“While much of the information placed in the database was related to legitimate state purposes, some of the information maintained, particularly the ‘special notes,’ was inappropriate—even if not demonstrably a violation of law—for a database subject to public disclosure,” Blumenthal concluded in the report.
“Other information in the database, even if properly included in such a state database, reasonably raises the perception that the database was also maintained to assist in election campaigns by Susan Bysiewicz,” the report reads. “Collecting and maintaining a list of holiday cards received by the Office of the Secretary of State is not illegal, but that information was transmitted to the Friends of Susan 2010, Inc. in February 2009, which sent out 11,850 holiday cards in December 2009.”
Blumenthal concluded it also didn’t look good that only Democratic delegates were listed in the database. There weren’t any Republicans, even though individuals who work in Bysiewicz’s office testified that they tried to obtain the names of Republican delegates.
“Finally, the perception that this database was created to benefit election campaigns of Susan Bysiewicz is heightened by incorporating information created on a 2006 Bysiewicz campaign computer into the state database, with no evidence indicating how it related to state business,” Blumenthal said in the report. “While this office was unable to determine who entered this material or why it was included in the database, the practice demonstrates a lack of respect for the clear separation that must exist between campaign organizations and the Office of the Secretary of the State.”
“Additionally, while certain data entered into the database may have had a legitimate state purpose, data heading titles based on religion, race, and ethnicity are not proper or appropriate for this type of state database,” Blumenthal’s report concluded.
Bysiewicz’s office responded to the investigation late Thursday afternoon.
“We have reviewed the Attorney General’s report and we are pleased with its two most fundamental findings: first, the database we use is a very valuable tool for state employees in providing constituent service and in managing the many Constitutional and statutory functions of this office; and second, no law was broken. We are implementing all of the recommendations contained in the report,” Bysiewicz said in a one-sentence response.
Click here to read the detailed report.