Information on Joe the Plumber may have come from illegally accessed computers

Stopping at nothing to slime an ordinary citizen who only asked a question of Obama, some media outlets apparently used information available only from government computers - private, protected information on Joe the Plumber - in their attempts to smear him:

Public records requested by The Dispatch disclose that information on Wurzelbacher's driver's license or his sport-utility vehicle was pulled from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles database three times shortly after the debate.

Information on Wurzelbacher was accessed by accounts assigned to the office of Ohio Attorney General Nancy H. Rogers, the Cuyahoga County Child Support Enforcement Agency and the Toledo Police Department.

It has not been determined who checked on Wurzelbacher, or why. Direct access to driver's license and vehicle registration information from BMV computers is restricted to legitimate law enforcement and government business.

Paul Lindsay, Ohio spokesman for the McCain campaign, attempted to portray the inquiries as politically motivated. "It's outrageous to see how quickly Barack Obama's allies would abuse government power in an attempt to smear a private citizen who dared to ask a legitimate question," he said.

The Obama campaign denies they were involved.

I believe them. This was almost certainly efforts by media to dig up as much dirt on Joe that they could find. Many reporters have their own sources in these departments who, either for free or a small fee, will access the information requested. The trick for the reporter is not to directly divulge where they got the information thus protecting their source as well as giving themselves plausible deniability if their editor asks. The journalists will usually use the information as background and to generate leads on where to look for other, legally obtainable information.

But this is usually done to do stories on criminals or people accused of a crime. Employing these tactics on an ordinary citizen is outrageous abuse and smacks of police state tactics. Any journalist - or Obama partisan - who accessed these records should be tracked down and arrested.

The case of Joe the Plumber brings to mind Reagan-era Secretary of Labor Raymond Donovan's famous words after being acquitted on trumped up charges by Democrats:

"Where do I go to get my reputation back?"

Given how the press has gone after Joe, no doubt he will be asking the same question.