Helen-Jones Kelley, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, confirmed that her department's computer search of Joe the Plumber's, aka Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, private records was much more thorough than she first admitted.
Helen Jones-Kelley, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, disclosed today that computer inquiries on Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher were not restricted to a child-support system.
The agency also checked Wurzelbacher in its computer systems to determine whether he was receiving welfare assistance or owed unemployment compensation taxes, she wrote.
The checks were run after the news media reported that Wurzelbacher was considering buying a plumbing business with more than $250,000 in annual income, Jones-Kelley wrote.
And the rationale for this shocking invasion of privacy?
"Given our understanding that Mr. Wurzelbacher had publicly indicated that he had the means to purchase a substantial business enterprise, ODJFS, consistent with past departmental practice, checked confidential databases ," she wrote.
"Not surprisingly, when a person behind in child support payments or receiving public assistance is receiving significant media attention which suggests that the person appears to have available financial resources, the Department risks justifiable criticism if it fails to take note and respond," Jones-Kelley wrote.
Jones-Kelley wrote that the checks were "well-meaning," but misinterpreted amid the heated final weeks of a presidential election.
There was no indication that Joe was guilty of any of these sins. But that should teach Plumber Joe, or indeed anyone who dares to speak out against a favored candidate, that Big Brother has his hands on an extensive computer database with all your personal information and will do a well meaning invasion of your privacy if he misinterprets your intentions.
Oh, by the way,
Jones-Kelly also has denied any connections between the computer checks on Wurzelbacher and her support for Obama. She donated the maximum $2,500 this year to the Obama campaign.
The administration of Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland has said the information was not improperly shared and that there were no political motives behind the checks.
The Dispatch has uncovered four uses of state computer systems to access personal information on Wurzelbacher, including the child-support check authorized by Jones-Kelley.
Certainly Ohio government officials will now do a well meaning computer check of Ms. Jones-Kelley's and Governor Strickland's records to discover if they owe child support, paid all their taxes, are receiving welfare, or are abusing the system in any way.
Certainly these Jones-Kelley and Strickland will welcome these actions and won't misinterpret them.