30 October 2008

The (background) check's in the mail...

I'm disgusted by the hyperpartisan actions of Helen Jones-Kelley, the director of Ohio's Job and Family Services office. For those just climbing out from under a rock, Jones-Kelley authorized a series of previously undisclosed extensive background checks on the newest campaign celebrity, Joe the Plumber. Coincidentally, she is a registered Democrat and Obama contributor.

"Helen Jones-Kelley, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, disclosed yesterday that computer inquiries on Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher were not restricted to a child-support system. The agency also checked Wurzelbacher in its computer systems to determine whether he was receiving welfare assistance or owed unemployment compensation taxes." (Columbus Dispatch, 10/29/2008)

Jones-Kelley claims that it's her job to perform such detailed background checks on anyone in her state who publicly claims to have significant resources.

"Given our understanding that Mr. Wurzelbacher had publicly indicated that he had the means to purchase a substantial business enterprise, ODJFS, consistent with past departmental practice, checked confidential databases," she wrote...

Ultimately she decided that the checks were "well-meaning," but misinterpreted amid the heated final weeks of a presidential election. Apparently she has mastered the art of understatement. Jones-Kelley indicated that the results remained confidential, though it stretches the bounds of credibility to suggest that they would have stayed confidential had anything of note turned up.

Please note, I'm not suggesting (yet) that The O's campaign had anything to do with Jones-Kelley's actions. However, the degree of separation isn't sufficient to make me feel comfortable about her claims that her actions were "well meaning but misinterpreted." As with the Palin effigy, The O had a chance to come out and deliver a strong statement against politics as usual (purportedly one of the cornerstones of his campaign), but came up just a bit short.

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