Several legislators – all of them Democrats – are jointly considering action in the wake of controversy over an email hacking scandal in the administration of Madison County Chairman Kurt Prenzler, a Republican.
In response to recent public investigation reports of administration hacking into confidential e-mails for political gain, state Sens. Rachelle Crowe, D-Glen Carbon, and Christopher Belt, D-Cahokia, and state Reps. Monica Bristow, D-Alton, Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, and LaToya Greenwood, D-East St. Louis, issued the following joint statement detailing their shared concerns about these recent revelations and steps they plan to take to prevent future abuses of power:
“Investigation reports uncovered numerous examples of Kurt Prenzler’s administration hacking into the e-mails of other county offices for political gain, including the Public Defender’s Office, the State’s Attorney’s Office, and the County Auditor’s Office. These political cronies, not all of whom were even county employees at the time, granted themselves full access to e-mails of employees not under the authority of the County Board Chairman. They had access to e-mails with confidential attorney-client communications, as well as confidential information of citizens, crime victims and children. Did they have access to Public Health emails and information? Now more than ever, we need to make certain personal health information remains private and that Public Health officials are free to do their job and not have to worry that someone is using their information for political gain.”
“As elected lawmakers, it is our job to stop and prevent such egregious breaches of privacy and corruption regardless of party or level of government. We plan to work together in the coming months to prevent this unethical abuse of power from happening again by taking the following steps:
– Review current protections under current state and federal law.
– Examine codified protections and data security requirements for county governments in other states.
– Consult with technical experts to determine best practices such as setting up firewalls to protect sensitive private data.
– Draft possible legislation to prevent future unethical breaches of confidential e-mails of public defenders, prosecutors, county employees, and public health records.”
“In light of Prenzler’s cronies’ blatant, unethical abuse of power, it is clear that action must be taken in order to prevent any county official from gaining wrongful access to private and confidential information, such as public health records and ongoing criminal investigation reports. We must hold those accountable who betray the public’s trust for their own political gain, and we intend to make it clear that this unethical behavior will not be tolerated at any level of government.”
PHOTO: Crowe, left, and Stuart.