Jeb Bush Illegally Released Emails Including Social Security Numbers Of Florida Residents


Jeb Bush, the smart Bush of the family who appears to be leading the 2016 inane clown posse, has had a pretty rough time with the internet as of late. His budding campaign got its first shot of PR damage control following sexually explicit tweets from his campaign’s web chief. And now it seems he might be in legal hot water over his decision to publish hundreds of thousands of emails sent to him during his time as governor of Florida. For a man who once dubbed himself the first “eGovernor” he’s looking more and more like his troglodyte brother who talked about “rumors on those internets.”

In an effort towards transparency (not something a Bush does well), the potential 2016 Republican candidate and ex-governor of Florida released hundreds of thousands of emails sent to him during his time in office.

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In the spirit of transparency, I am posting the emails of my governorship here,” a note on Bush’s website says. “Some are funny; some are serious; some I wrote in frustration.” Some also contain the email addresses, home addresses, phone numbers, and social security numbers of Florida residents. The emails are available in Outlook format, and can be searched on the web at Bush’s website.

Wait, so the potential crop of 2016 Republican candidates are going to care about the poor and be transparent? Can they really feign both? That’s like a kid believing his deadbeat dad is suddenly interested in his school play. Jeb’s campaign may have had the best of interests, but they totally pooped the bed when they didn’t redact potentially sensitive personal information. A blunder that’s hard to swallow when you consider how George Bush had Cheney redact everything from war memos to the White House cafeteria menu. While some emails are mostly innocuous, some contain very private details.

From The Verge:

Other emails include potentially sensitive details about government operations. One email reviewed by The Verge discussed termination of a Florida Lottery employee; the email revealed the reasons for his termination, including “conduct unbecoming a public employee, insubordination, and neglect of duty.” The employee had emailed then-governor Bush to appeal for reinstatement. Bush followed up with a lottery official to see if his request could be granted.

Some include personal appeals from citizens with medical or employment issues. And a subset of these messages contain sensitive data like social security numbers, as in the email shown below. (The redactions are our own.)

Jeb Bush dumps emails including social security numbers of Florida residents online       The Verge

Image @ The Verge

According to Florida law, what the Bush Camp did might have actually been illegal and they’re pretty freaking dumb for doing so. I mean, social security numbers? Really???

Here’s how Florida defines email messages, courtesy of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement:

02-07: Personal E-mail Messages Are Not “Public Records”
Case: Times Publishing Company v. City of Clearwater, 27 FLW D1073, 2nd DCA Date: May 10, 2002

FACTS: The Times Publishing Company asked for copies of all e-mail sent from or received by two city employees who used city-owned computers for their communication. The city allowed the two employees to review and separate their e-mail messages into two categories, personal and work-related. Only the work-related e-mails were turned over to the Times. The Times sued the city for the other e-mails.

RULING: The appellate court ruled that personal e-mails are not within the definition of “public records” under the Florida Public Records laws. Thus, they are not subject to release when “public records” are demanded.

Jeb’s campaign, already weary over its web chief, was quick to point blame. A Bush spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that the release is “an exact replica of the public records on file with the Florida Department of State and are available at anyone’s request under Chapter 119 sunshine laws.” That might not be totally true considering that social security numbers are definitely exempt (and confidential) under that same chapter of the law, as The Verge pointed out.
In short, you don’t exactly have to be a grad student at MIT to know that emailing your personal data is probably not the brightest idea. But it really doesn’t look good for a supposedly “tech savvy” Governor to be potentially violating the law with such a massive disclosure, especially when that governor is supposed to be the smart Bush. I know that’s like being the thinnest at fat camp and not the loftiest of aspirations, but still.
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