Jeb Bush’s political action committee are redacting constituent Social Security numbers (SSNs) that were in his massive e-mail release Tuesday and they are laying the blame for the blunder squarely on the state of Florida, noting they tried to stop this from even happening last year.
The potential 2016 presidential candidate released over 275,000 e mails in the name of “transparency,” but personal information including SSNs were left on some of the emails. Bush’s “Right to Rise” political action committee received them from the state in a similar way reporters received them last year thanks to Florida’s open records laws.
The Verge first reported the release of the sensitive information, including the numbers and other personal identifiable information such as phone numbers and home addresses.
Florida’s robust open records laws do state some information should be redacted before release including personally identifiable information like SSNs, as well as anything that could be sensitive to national security and some confidential economic information.
Once Bush released his massive cache online yesterday it was clear some of this sensitive information had been exposed, but the Bush team says they have now redacted all SSNs they have found including what was flagged in the press, as well as what they found themselves searching for the digits and have redacted those.
They believe the burden was on the state--not Bush--to originally redact the information. Bush's spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said in a statement, "Our site contains the public records that were made available by the State of Florida. We have redacted the emails brought to our attention and that contained personal information."
Bush's team did foresee the issue last year, writing a letter to the state’s office of administration asking for these numbers to be redacted, essentially trying to prevent this from ever happening.
In a letter sent on May 27, 2014 Bush's personal attorney Raquel Rodriguez wrote a letter to the state's director of administration asking all of Bush's e mails be put in the public record, including ones from his personal email account, but Rodriguez also writes, "We hope these emails will be available permanently to the public, provided the records are first reviewed by state officials in accordance with Florida Statute to ensure information exempt from public disclosure is redacted from before release, including social security numbers of Florida citizens who contacted Governor Bush for assistance."
Bush's PAC provided the letter to ABC News. Florida’s Department of State issued a statement saying they are "currently reviewing our process for redacting confidential information from documents given to the State Archives."
In a press conference yesterday, Bush was asked about the revealed data and put the blame on the state, calling it a “matter of public record.”
“We just released what the government gave us,” Bush said, but when asked if he could have done it differently he answered, “Yeah, we have private information that’s out there we are going to take it off, for sure.”
It has been a week of technology fumbles for the man who said he earned the nickname “eGovernor” while running Florida and said he spent 30 hours a week at all hours of the day e-mailing constituents and staff from his BlackBerry.
Tuesday, Bush’s new chief technology officer for his PAC and campaign-in-waiting, Ethan Czahor, resigned when Buzzfeed first reported on offensive tweets he wrote including referring to women as “sluts” and other eyebrow-raising comments.
He deleted the tweets in question, but in one from 2009 Czahor wrote “new study confirms old belief: college female art majors are sluts, science majors are also sluts but uglier."
He announced his resignation on Twitter and said he hopes the situation won’t impact “future techies.”
"i only hope that my recent news won't dissuade future techies from entering politics, regardless of political affiliations/backgrounds..."