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Utah voters’ personal information posted to internet: Who is responsible?

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Key Points

  • Elected officials responsible for the posting of 1.5 million Utahn’s birth dates and other personal information to the internet include Utah’s Governor and Lt. Governor; Senator Margaret Dayton; Representatives Keith Grover, Holly Richardson, Rebecca Chavez-Houck, Craig Frank, Curt Webb, and the members of the House Political Subdivisions Standing Committee; Senator Curt Bramble and Attorney Generals Shurtleff and Swallow,
  • Others who testified against bills that would have protected voters’ information or who otherwise actively contributed to ensuring that voters’ personal identifying information be made public include: LexisNexis (Mike Bailey and Shelley Cordon-Teuscher), the Republican and Democrat Parties (Thomas Wright, Jim Dabakis, Stan Lockhart, Matt Lyon, Jeff Peterson, Scott Simpson, Ivan DuBois, Christy Achziger), the Utah Media Coalition (Randy Wright, Joel Campbell, Doug Foxley, Frank Pignanelli), and Bear River Mutual Insurance (Mike Sonntag).
  • This article explains the role each of the above played in the ultimate posting of voters’ private information to the internet. It includes links to the voter records of most of the above. It also includes the consolidated information (name, address, phone number, date of birth, party affiliation) copied directly from utvoters.com for many of the above.
  • Editors Note: The author of this article warned both the public and elected officials on numerous occasions that the voter database sold by the state of Utah could be legally posted to the internet. He advised the public to cancel their voter registration if already registered and not to register to vote until voters’ information was protected. He cancelled his voter registration several years ago and his personal identifying information is not on utvoters.com.

This is the second of a two-part report. The first report looked at the elected officials and Utah citizens who tried to prevent the posting of personal identifying information of 1.5 million Utah voters’ to the internet.

This report looks at the elected officials, party leaders, lobbyists and businesses that made it possible for the personal information of 1.5 million registered Utah voters to be legally posted to the internet and to be made available for viewing and downloading by anyone with internet access anywhere in the world.

The personal information of certain elected officials that is included in this report was taken directly from utvoter.com. This includes their addresses, party affiliations, phone numbers and birth dates. In addition, many other names are hyperlinked to their individual record on utvoters.com.

Efforts to place any limits on the distribution of the voter database have always faced powerful opposition and have always been defeated. Thus, in recent years, legislators have limited their efforts to preventing the disclosure of a voter’s birth date because it is one of the three elements (name, birth date and Social Security number) required to steal an individual’s total identity.

OPPOSITION FROM ELECTED OFFICIALS

Governor Gary Herbert (R) heads the list of those who are responsible for allowing the posting 1.5 million Utahns’ personal identifying information to a public website because he is the chief executive officer of the state of Utah and is responsible for ensuring that information held by the executive branch is properly protected.

As previously reported, Governor Herbert’s personal voter record has been deleted from the list that his administration sells. Therefore, there is no personal identifying information for Governor Herbert listed on utvoters.com and none included here.

It is important to note that during the time that Herbert has been governor, the personal identifying information of an estimated two million plus Utahns’ has being made public by various executive branch offices that he is responsible for. In other words, during Herbert’s time in office, two out of three (67%) Utahns have had their personal identifying information either sold by or stolen from the state of Utah.

(Former) Lt. Governor Greg Bell (R) oversaw the sale of the personal information of 1.5 registered voters to anyone with $1,050 and was in office when the list that was posted to the internet was sold. As with Governor Herbert, there is no personal identifying information for Bell listed on utvoters.com because his entire record was removed from the list before his office sold it to utvoters.com.

In 2012, Lt. Governor Bell refused, on multiple occasions, to step up and protect Utah Voters’ personal identifying information and even worse, he actively fought efforts that would have protected it. He did, however, ensure that voters’ e-mail addresses would never be made public by the state.

Also in 2012, Bell had a killer fiscal note put on HB304 after it passed the House of Representatives because it would have allowed individual voters to opt out of having their birth dates sold by they state.

Coincidentally, the fiscal note was exactly $10,000 which is the threshold used to kill bills that powerful interests do not like.

Senator Margaret O’Brien Dayton was born 17 May 1949 and is (or was) living at 97 W Westview Dr, Orem, Utah 84058-7459. Dayton is (or was) a registered Republican voter. Dayton’s telephone number is (or was) 1-801-221-0623. This is all unrestricted, public information from a purchased copy of the Utah voter list, dated 19 June 2013.

Dayton refused to permit a bill that she was running on behalf of the Lt. Governor’s office (SB18) that made e-mail addresses a private record to be amended in order to make voters’ birth dates a protected record as well. Click here to listen to the committee hearing where Dayton objects to protecting the birth date because the Lt. Governor did not want it included in his bill.

In spite of Representative Richard Greenwood’s assertion that birth dates are much more sensitive than are e-mail addresses that can be changed, Dayton insisted that only voter e-mails be protected.

I understand the intent [of the amendment] and would not be in favor of that in so much as I am running this for an agency,” Dayton said. “This bill was heard in interim and a senate committee. It was the preference of the Senate that birth date be considered in a separate bill and that this bill go forward as requested by the Lt. Governor.”

When called before the committee, according to the Committee Minutes, Mark Thomas of the Lt. Governor’s office spoke against the amendment. Thomas said: “This is a bill that we did request…that only addresses the e-mail… We view it [birth date] as a separate issue that merits its own discussion….Let’s look at the e-mail on its own and the birthdate on its own.”

Thomas also said the voter list was sold dozens of times each year. Greenwood pointed out that if the birth date is not protected then the enterprises purchasing the voter lists obtain the birth dates as well. “Correct,” responded Thomas.

In her response to Greenwood’s proposed amendment Dayton said: “I think the date of birth is worthy of discussion. It is obviously controversial and this bill is not…I would be opposed to the motion [to protect the birth date].”

In an unusual move, Dayton left the hearing before a final vote on the amendment was taken. Speaking on her behalf, the House sponsor of the Bill, Keith Grover reiterated what Dayton said – that they were not supportive of the amendment to protect birth dates as well as e-mail addresses.

When Greenwood recommended passing the bill out with favorable recommendation, Representative Craig Frank made a substitute motion to hold the bill in committee “because the content of the bill is now in question.” Grover supported holding it in committee. Frank’s motion failed on a 5-5 vote.

Dayton was still not present when the amended bill finally passed out of committee by a vote of 7-3 with Representatives Sagers, Chavez-Houck and Powell voting against it.

When the amended bill came to the floor in the House, Grover circled it rather than allowing the House to vote on it with Greenwood’s amendment.

Dayton was so adamant that voters’ birth dates remain a public record that she, as Senate Rules Committee Chair, took Greenwood’s bills that had passed the House hostage until he removed his amendment that protected voters’ birth dates.

One of Green’s bills held hostage addressed problems encountered when the occupants of a boat that hit and killed Esther Fujimoto, a lab specialist at the University of Utah, failed to stop and render assistance.

Dayton’s single-minded efforts eventually resulted in Greenwood’s amendment being removed from SB18 and to the demise of HB304 which would have allowed voters’ to prevent the state from selling their birth dates.

Representative Keith L. Grover, was born 14 July 1969 and is (or was) living at 1374 W 1940 N, Provo, Utah 84604-1124. Grover is (or was) a registered Republican voter. Grover’s telephone number is (or was) 1-801-768-7025. This is all unrestricted, public information from a purchased copy of the Utah voter list, dated 19 June 2013.

Grover was the House sponsor of SB18 and stood firm with Senator Dayton and the Lt. Governor’s office as they refused to allow the bill to go forward with an amendment protecting the birth dates of voters.

Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck (D) was born 17 May 1961 and is (or was) living at 643 E 16th Ave, Salt Lake City, Utah 84103-3704. Chavez-Houck is (or was) a registered Democratic voter. This is all unrestricted, public information from a purchased copy of the Utah voter list, dated 19 June 2013.

Chavez-Houck actively opposed both HB410 and HB304 which would have protected voters’ birth dates.

Former Representative Holly (On the Hill) Richardson was born 18 December 1964 and is (or was) living at 882 W 2800 N, Pleasant Grove, Utah 84062-8027. Richardson is (or was) a registered Republican voter. Richardson’s telephone number is (or was) 1-801-785-0433. This is all unrestricted, public information from a purchased copy of the Utah voter list, dated 19 June 2013.

Richardson was a leader in the effort to ensure that voters’ birth dates remained a public record.

During a committee hearing on HB410 which would have made a voter’s month and day of birth a private record, Richardson argued that the bill addressed a problem that did not exist and that it created more problems that it solved.

“I don’t see that this is an issue that we need to solve and this is a process that is needed in the political parties,” Richardson said.

Richardson then unsuccessfully tried to kill the bill in committee by moving to table it. In summarizing her motion, Richardson said: “It is always a struggle, I think, to figure out what the appropriate role of government is and I’m not sure that it is to jump on a problem that hasn’t happened. I understand that we can be proactive but I’m not positive this is a problem that we need to address in this particular manner.”

When HB410 eventually came to the floor of the House, Richardson again spoke against it.

Thus, for Richardson, the interests of the political parties and of candidates, such as herself, supersede the right to privacy of 1.5 million Utahns.

“I appreciate the concern for privacy and respect for personal information; however, all of us have been through campaigns when we need voter lists that are accurate and the data by removing birth date and month can lead to very irritated voters when you contact them erroneously and it can also really impact the ability in larger races to efficiently run those races….We are looking at a problem that doesn’t need to be solved and I urge you to vote against this bill.”

Richardson is now challenging Representative Brian Greene who, as reported in an earlier article, unsuccessfully tried to prevent Utahns’ birth dates from being sold by the state and ultimately posted to the internet.

Former Representative Craig Allan Frank was born 23 February 1962 and is (or was) living at 825 E 1300 N, Pleasant Grove, Utah 84062-9114. Frank is (or was) a registered Republican voter. Frank’s telephone number is (or was) 1-801-362-3171. This is all unrestricted, public information from a purchased copy of the Utah voter list, dated 19 June 2013.

Frank was single minded in his opposition to any effort to protect citizen’s birth dates. He fought to defeat any attempt to protect voters’ personal identifying information in committee. Frank successfully moved to adjourn to avoid a vote on HB304 and he tried to unsuccessfully to hold SB18 in committee once it had been amended to protect voters’ birth dates.

Former Senate President Michael Grant Waddoups was born 12 June 1948 and is (or was) living at 2868 W Matterhorn Dr, Taylorsville, Utah 84129-5329. Waddoups is (or was) a registered Republican voter. Waddoups’s telephone number is (or was) 1-801-355-1136. This is all unrestricted, public information from a purchased copy of the Utah voter list, dated 19 June 2013.

Waddoups joined with Lt. Governor Bell and Senator Dayton in making certain that Utahn’s birth dates remained available for sale and distribution to the world. He refused to bring HB304 to the floor of the Senate at the behest of the state's, two major political parties and all of their high paid consultants that take citizens personal information and use it to manipulate elections.

In 2013, members of the House Political Subdivisions Standing Committee effectively killed Representative Brian Greene’s bill that would have made citizens’ birth dates on all state records a protected record.

Committee chair, R. Curt Webb was born 25 October 1949 and is (or was) living at 500 Hillsborough Dr, Providence, Utah 84332-9480. Webb is (or was) a registered Republican voter. Webb’s telephone number is (or was) 1-435-753-2467. This is all unrestricted, public information from a purchased copy of the Utah voter list, dated 19 June 2013.

In spite of a direct warning that 1.5 million voters’ private information could legally be posted to the internet (24:28 minutes on this audio recording), Webb said that we have never been able to determine the dangers associated with the release of a citizen’s birth date by the state and asked “so why are we doing this [protecting it] now?”

Webb then made the motion to move on to the next agenda item with a promise that Greene’s bill would be brought back at the next committee meeting; however, he subsequently cancelled that meeting so the bill died. Click here to listen to the entire committee hearing.

Committee members voting with Webb to move on without taking action included Republicans: Rep. Jeremy A. Peterson, Vice Chair, Rep. Jerry B. Anderson, Rep., now Lt. Governor, Spencer J. Cox, Rep. Michael S. Kennedy, Rep. Marc K. Roberts, Rep. John R. Westwood, and Democrats: Rep. Jennifer M. Seelig, Rep. and Marie H. Poulson.

State Senator Curtis Scott Bramble's opposition to any legislation protecting citizens’ birth dates or other identifying information was cited by a House member as a reason for not running legislation to protect voters’ information.

Attorney Generals Shurtleff and Swallow (Rs) were both aware of the serious threat to Utahns that the sale of the voter records entailed. They also acknowledged that the list could legally be posted to the internet should anyone take the initiative to do so but did nothing to prevent it.

POLITICAL PARTY LEADERS AND LOBBYISTS

The list of those speaking and lobbying against various bills that would have protected voters’ personal identifying information includes political party officials and business lobbyists who profit from the information.

The leaders of the state’s two major political parties, Thomas Wright (R) and Jim Dabakis (D), both opposed any protection of voters’ birth dates and in a unique bipartisan act, they and their second in commands issued a joint letter calling on legislators to vote against a bill that would have allowed citizens to opt out of having their birth dates made public.

Former state Republican Party Chair and powerful lobbyist, Stan Lockhart was also identified as a strong opponent of efforts to protect voters’ personal identifying information.

Opponents of HB370 sponsored by Representative Brian Greene included the following. (Click here to listen to the committee hearing.)

Mike Bailey, LexisNexis, told the committee that LexisNexis customers, including law enforcement, business, banks, insurance companies and employers, needed voter information to do background checks, to track people down, and to engage people in the political process.

Matt Lyon, Utah State Democratic Party spoke against the bill and handed out a letter from Thomas Wright and Jim Dabakis opposing the bill.

Jeff Peterson, Utah GOP spoke against the bill.

Mike Sonntag, AIA, Bear River Mutual Insurance explained how the insurance industry relies on state records that make citizens’ birth dates public.

Opponents of HB304 Sponsored by Representative Rebecca Edwards.

Shelley Cordon-Teuscher, Lexis-Nexis spoke in opposition to the bill.

Todd Taylor, State Democratic Party spoke in opposition to the bill.

Opponents of HB410 Sponsored by Rebecca Edwards. (Click here to listen to the committee hearing.)

Shelly Teuscher, representing LexisNexis, told the committee that LexisNexis produces products that help law enforcement. LexisNexis needs the birth dates from voter registration lists to combine with as many other pieces of data from other sources as possible. Clients include the Utah Attorney General’s office, the Utah Tax Commission and others. Once LexisNexis has the data they protect it.

Scott Simpson, former Executive Director of the Utah Republican Party said that he was sensitive to notion of privacy…."but this is an inherently public process and making the birth date public facilitates the dialogue between those seeking public office and those hiring them.”

Ivan DuBois, Executive Director, Utah Republican Party, opposed the bill. He opined that it would ultimately hinder voter participation as voters receive less information from candidates and interest groups. The birth date is already out there, according to DuBois, so the legislature shouldn’t hinder parties by trying to protect it. In addition, this is a public process and the records should be public. Having the year of birth is simply not enough for the party. The Democrat party supports the Republican position. Protecting birth dates hurts the voter more than it protects the voter.

Christy Achziger, Vice –Chair, Utah Republican Party, opposed the bill because she didn’t want anything to impede running a campaign. This is important data that parties need to facilitate the voting process.

Lt. Governor’s office. Mark Thomas of the Lt. Governor’s office was called before committee and he said that the protection of voters’ personal identifying information has been an issue that the Lt. Governor’s office was interested in.

According to Thomas, then Lt. Governor Herbert originally interpreted the law as not requiring the release of the birth date as part of the voter list that was sold. The Government Records Committee determined that the information had to be released and Governor Huntsman let it drop.

Thomas said that he didn’t know what Lt. Governor Bell’s position was but that “we are concerned that an incident will occur that will be traced back to the voter data file and someone will have to answer why it was released….We need to find a way for everyone to get the information they want and that will work for them.”

MEDIA DEMANDS RELEASE OF ALL PERSONAL INFORMATION

The Utah Media Coalition opposed both HB304 and HB370 and demanded that voters make their personal identifying information a public record as a condition of voting

Randy Wright the former editor of the Provo Herald and Joel Campbell, BYU Journalism Professor, led the opposition to HB304. Doug Foxley and Frank Pignanelli were registered as the Coalition’s lobbyists.

In 2012, representatives of the media refused to accept a carve out that would have given them access to the voter records as long as they properly protected them. They insisted that the entire voter file, including each voter’s month, day and year of birth be a public record accessible by the world—which it now is.

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