Saturday, September 09, 2006

Lieberman Violates His Own Privacy Policy

Joe Lieberman's latest attacks on Ned Lamont have violated the Senator's own privacy policy regarding communications sent to his office. On Friday the Lieberman campaign made public an email that Ned Lamont, as a constituent, wrote to him in 1998. The letter expressed Lamont's growing frustration with how the Lewinksy scandal was unfolding, and Senator Lieberman's own role in allowing it to play out.

According to the Senator's own privacy policy this is a big no-no.

My office will not share any personal information communicated through my Web site with any outside organization or individual, except in the following situations: (1) when needed to perform constituent casework at your request; (2) in the course of an authorized law enforcement investigation or emergency posing an imminent risk to public safety; or (3) if you choose to participate in my interactive online E-Government comment page, and authorize me to publish your comment, your name, and the organization you represent.


Violating your own privacy policy in order to attack your opponent is an unscrupulous move. It destroys the trust between the Senator and anyone who has taken the time to write to him. In most organizations violating a privacy policy is a firable offense. Will Joe Lieberman fire those responsible? If he personally authorized the release of the letter will he apologize?

If Lieberman and his staff can't be trusted not to breach the policy they wrote how can he be trusted to represent us in the Senate?



Hat tips to Spazeboy over at MLN, and TParty at LamontBlog.


Sources

"Privacy Policy". Senator Joe Lieberman Website. Viewed on 9/9/06

Medina, Jennifer. "Lieberman Points Out a Turnabout by Lamont

32 comments:

turfgrrl said...

Of course in 1998, Lieberman's web site was non existent, but the US Senate had a bare bones site up. But hey, why let facts get in the way of a good story? Retroactive privacy policies... what's next from people who can't get over the fact that Lieberman is the current sitting Democratic US Senator form Connecticut.

Genghis Conn said...

Actually, it was there as far back as 1997, just under the URL www.senate.gov/~lieberman.

However, the contact page doesn't seem to have a privacy policy on it.

turfgrrl said...

That would be the senate web site GC -- not the Senator's website.

Bobby McGee said...

Even so, don't you think Lieberman's argument takes Lamont's letter completely out of context. It seemed to me like Lamont was trying to get Lieberman to bring situation to a close as quickly as possible.

cgg said...

I just wrote an email to the Senate's webmaster asking when the Senate's privacy policy was enacted, if it was up to individual Senators or a body wide policy, and if that policy was meant to apply retroactively. We'll see how long before I get an answer.

Even if Lieberman didn't technically break his policy (which at present I don't agree), he certainly broke the spirit. As I said in my post a trust has been broken. That goes beyond the campaign.

turfgrrl said...

CGG- Privacy policies started appearing in late 2000 ...

TrueBlueCT said...

C'mon you right your Senator a letter, you don't expect it to be leaked to a political campaign.

What if it was a Hartford person, (say Rubenstein) running against Eddie Perez. If private correspondence was leaked, everyone would have a field day.

Shame on Joe. And shame even more on lazy reporters who have taken one paragraph out of context.

turfgrrl said...

truebluect --Actually I think constituent letters can be FOIA'd, so they are not private correspondence. But maybe someone with a legal background can clarify.

Anonymous said...

turfgrrl, would you be comfortable if someone FOIA'd your correspondence with officials and posted to this blog?

I'm not being snarky that's an actual question!

turfgrrl said...

My comments to governmental officials have been posted to websites as part of a FOIA act. I've got mixed views about it though. I like transparency in government and I like historical document records. Where I get concerned is when entities gain access to aggregate records.

read it said...

See Eschaton for the actual text of Lamont's letter, which is explicitly critical of the "Starr inquisition" and calls on Lieberman to "put an end to this snowballing mess" and "move on."

Anonymous said...

I think the whole privacy policy is a non-issue and an attempt to shift the focus from the big, politically expedient flip flop. Lamont was the one who dredged up the Lewinsky issue and as a political candidate, he should be held accountable for comments he made about the issue in the past. It speaks to his character, or lack thereof.

cgg said...

Anon 10:20 did you read the actual letter?

And I would argue that violating a constituent's privacy for purely political purposes is a *very* big issue.

Anonymous said...

cgg - A constituent has no reasonable expectation of privacy when they send a letter or e-mail (especialloy e-mail) to their elected officials.

Also, these letters are subject to FOIA; that is not in dispute. Indeed, the legislature tried to pass a law to protect themselves from having to turn over such information (it was an attempt to protect certain people regarding former Senator, now felon Ernie Newton), but Gov. Rell vetoed the bill thankfully.

I think your sensibilities are all flustered because your candidate got caught. The question for Ned to answer is: did you lie, are you being a hypocrit or did you change your mind for political purposes?

Trust me, if this was information about Bush or his Administration I don't see you as being this upset.

Lastly, even if Lieberman violated his own policy (retroactively), I think it is worth it in an effort to expose the truth about Ned Lamont's positions.

cgg said...

Got caught? Anon 11:02 did you read the full text of the letter?

Also you said this: Lastly, even if Lieberman violated his own policy (retroactively), I think it is worth it in an effort to expose the truth about Ned Lamont's positions.

Ah. So it's OK for Senator Lieberman to throw ethics out the window in order to make his point.

ctblogger said...

BTW: GC using the pop-up windows comment feature.

Nice touch.

ctblogger said...

Anon 11:02=Dan Gerstein trying to save his own butt.

gchaucer2 said...

@ Anonymous, get a real name and acquire some reading skills. Anyone who is anonymous is suspect.

@ turfgirl, it is my first time noticing your name, and I may be completely off base, but you seem suspiciously ready with dates for the privacy notice. Re: FOIA -- there's a reason there is a process for getting documents through FOIA, it leaves a paper trail from the requester and the one who provides the documents. Not the case here. I hope there are not a lot of concerned seniors, unemployed, handicapped, veterans, etc. out there who wrote to their representatives and inserted personal information.

Don't mean to be contentious, but my profession requires close reading, cutting through bullshit, and analysing consequences of broken expectations. No, I'm not a psychopath, but pretty close.

turfgrrl said...

gchaucer2 --Or maybe I know a thing or two about the trends in commercial development of organizational web sites. The wayback machine, however, is my fact checker.

Anonymous said...

But hey, why let facts get in the way of a good story?

Did you really write this? Did you laugh when you wrote it?

Has irony, finally, at long last, died?

Anonymous said...

well, this is rich. Lamont makes a hypocritical attack on Lieberman and blames the victim for defending himself.

Perhaps that brilliant legal scholar Rubenstein can explain the concept of "opening the door". But he's too partisan to be professional, I fear

strikeforce said...

Maybe Lieberman should have added a codicil to his exceptions: 4) … or if your e-mail message was written as a private citizen but later you decide to run against me in a primary, win, and then, as a part of your campaign criticize me for having done what you praised me for in your initial e-mail. When are the Lamonters going to stop pretending that their candidate is not engaged in a campaign? It’s really funny.

demchick said...

As stated by turfgrrl above, all correspondence to our elected officials are available through FOI. It's one of the assets of an open government.

But this begs the bigger issue - what is the Lamont campaign thinking? They reach back 8 years to dredge up an old issue, one in which Lamont completely contradicts himself. Is this flop the brainchild of Swan or Jepsen?

justinh said...

What Anonymous said... at 9:19

was completely irrelevant.

Bluto Blutarsky said...

You Lamont people should be proud of getting Joe 2006 blog shut down.

I will be so glad to see you losers get what you deserve on Election Day Especially that scumbag Keith Crane.

Bobby McGee said...

Lieberman's done a lot more than violate his privacy policy.

demchick said...

Bobby McGee, I have to disagree...

If I, as a regular joe, requested any correspondence between Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont, this beautiful system called an open government would have referred to its FOI laws and given it to me.

So, Lieberman released it first. So what? Should he employ online shills to do his dirty work for him?

As a disclaimer, I am not a Lieberman fan - never have been and never will. I voted for Ned in the primary, and may still vote for him in the General Election. But this whole issue is ridiculous. As a former reporter, I know this is all open to the public. Any reporters out there covering this race should have already issued the FOI requests for this information.

The bigger issue is that Ned Lamont is trying to throw anything against the wall that sticks, make a little political hay, and isn't being frank about what he feels then and now. What kind of candidate is that?

cgg said...

Neal Fink over at MLN has more on this story. He raises questions about Lieberman and Senate ethics.

FatGuyinMiddleSeat said...

Umm.. explain to me why Ned Lamont- whom many of you contend is the only man in this race who is not a big liar- either had an enormous memory lapse (bad) or is just a CONVENIENTLY forgetful hack (worse.)

Dredging up 1998 was the worst mistake the Nedleys made since Swan turned away the electorate at the Intersection of Slime and Evil (8 and 84).

Talking about Joe's ethics is a smokescreen- address Lamont's substantive mistake. At some point, Lamont has to learn to play big league baseball. Unfortunately for Ned, he won't learn the game before this season ends.

Not only was this release legal, it actually was quite fair. You can't say one thing in a campaign in 2006 and another thing in 1998- and expect it not to come back to you. Ned should just say he was wrong in 1998, but that when he was young and foolish, he did things that were young and foolish.

justavoter said...

Lamont is staying on the issues and what Lieberman did would be found by those in the legal profession to be wrong.

Its amazing how Lieberman does exactly what the Lieberyouth did before the Primary when he lost.

Anonymous said...

Fat Guy - I suggest you read the entire text of the letter - he criticizes Lieberman in 1998 and he criticizes him now.

Just because you accept the spoonful from the NYT, doesn't make it so...

FrankS said...

Reading Lieberman's response to Lamont, it strikes me that the language is a boilerplate response. Does Lieberman read his email?