Klobuchar fires communications director for accessing protected video

The Amy Klobuchar for U.S. Senate campaign fired communications director Tara McGuinness today for accessing a Mark Kennedy for U.S. Senate advertisement. through the use of protected passwords that were accessed by a local blogger. Ben Goldfarb, campaign manager with Klobuchar’s campaign, just called back to say that McGuinness was sent a direct link to the video from an unnamed local blogger who accessed the video through the use of passwords. Goldfarb said McGuinness accessed the direct link and watched the video. When I asked him directly if McGuinness typed in a password to access the video he said “I cannot answer that question.”

Apparently a blogger, who has not been named, accessed the video first and notified McGuinness. McGuinness was unavailable for comment. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office would not comment. Goldfarb, would not provide much more detail beyond the statement released below. One of the big questions is which local blogger accessed the video? (UPDATE- I just talked to Matt Martin with MNPublius and he insists that no one in his shop had anything to do with this). The other big question is how big of an impact will this have on Klobuchar’s campaign?

Anyway, here’s the release:

Statement of Ben Goldfarb, Klobuchar for Minnesota Campaign Manager

U.S. Senate candidate Amy Klobuchar’s campaign manager, Ben Goldfarb, today released the following statement:

“On Saturday, September 16, 2006, our campaign was contacted by a local blogger. He called Tara McGuinness, Communications Director of our campaign, and then sent her a link to what appeared to be an unreleased advertisement of the Kennedy campaign. Neither Amy Klobuchar nor I have personally seen this advertisement and no campaign strategy or decisions will be changed because of it.

“The blogger indicated to Ms. McGuinness that he had gained access to the advertisement by use of passwords. Exercising poor judgment, Ms. McGuinness opened the link, watched the advertisement and asked others on our campaign to watch it.

“When we learned of this occurrence, Ms. Klobuchar directed that I take immediate action. I instructed the blogger that sending information like this to the campaign was wrong and not to send us any further advertisements. I then asked for and received Ms. McGuinness’ resignation. Ms. Klobuchar also directed that the incident be reported to federal law enforcement for their review. That report has been made and the Klobuchar campaign will cooperate fully with law enforcement.

“Because law enforcement officials will now be reviewing this matter, any additional public comments will be necessarily limited.”

Statement of U.S. Senate candidate Amy Klobuchar

U.S. Senate candidate and County Attorney Amy Klobuchar today released the following statement:

“What happened here was wrong. By reporting the blogger’s activities and this incident to law enforcement, we are doing the right thing. Some people may believe that this happens on campaigns all the time, but it is not acceptable on our campaign.

“I offer a sincere apology to Mark Kennedy and his campaign.”

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  • scott

    Last year, Kennedy’s chief campaign communications person pretty clearly violated the law when she took numerous copyrighted Associated Press news stories and reprinted them without permission on the Kennedy campaign website. Plus she secretly edited these copyrighted stories to delete any unfavorable references or comments about her candidate. If I recall, the AP was awfully angry at this violation of the copyright law.

    This person, I believe, continues to work for the Kennedy campaign?

  • http://impeccableliberalcredentials.blogspot.com ImpeccableLiberalCredentials

    I think that is probably a good call on the part of the Klobuchar campaign, after all a prosecutor/county attorney has to have a high degree of respect for the law if they are going to enforce the law on the rest of the population… unlike the weasel-like signing statements and assertions of Executive and Congressional privilege we see too much of. However, it is maybe a little unfair that the laws about cybercrime are probably pretty obscure from the point-of-view of a campaign communications director or your run of the mill blogger vs. anyone from a network security (me) or law enforcement background (e.g. Coleen Rowley, Amy Klobuchar). I hope that they are pretty open and aggressive in persuing this… and educating the public at large about what legal and illegal internet behavior looks like. Its a little more substantial than the “I was hacked” claims of the Lieberman campaign during their primary in CT.

    If you aspire to make the law, you better be prepared to be subject to it, especially if you are a well-financed campaign with lots of campaign professionals and lawyer types, but I hope that more amateur operations might get warnings vs. prosecutions, depending on intent.

    And it wasn’t anyone from the ImpeccableLiberalCredentials shop that screwed up in this fashion.

  • http://albatross.org Albatross

    Then there’s the question of, “was this a setup?”

    You have to admit, it’s a no-lose situation. Set the ad behind a weak password, leak it to “a blogger” (I’ll be interested to see who this is). If nothing happens, nothing is lost. If the Klobuchar campaign uses the information, great, we slap them hard. If the Klobuchar campaign contacts the Feds, we STILL slap them hard…

    It’s a sign of the perfidiousness of the Republicans that such a conspiracy is not more implausible.

  • wellstoner

    If what this blogger says is true, I think the campaign overreacted and showed very little regard for a staff member (whom I’ve never met and don’t know anything about) who has likely given her life and soul over to this campaign up until now. Now come on–she clicked on a link and watched the ad. So they kick her to the curb and the GOP continue to harp anyway? Loyalty should be a two-way street.

  • Bob Collins

    It’s both a dessert topping and a floor wax. Maybe the staffer didn’t do “anything wrong” or maybe she did. But the Klobuchar campaigned played it well….by getting it out there.

    Most of these diversions that derail campaigns happen because candidates try to cover up and delay. See Entenza, Matt.

    The staffer was sacrificed but that’s what you have to do in a campaign. It could be used — if a campaign were so inclined — to reinforce the determination to clean up in Washington (only on a …ahem…somewhat grander scale).

    Klobuchar has put Kennedy in a difficult spot too. If he tries to make too much hay out of it, she can just hammer home how she won’t put up with corruption etc. etc. And, yeah, she’s also holding that “stealing copyrighted material” card that she could still play.

    My guess is both sides will have their news conferences and move on to something else, and the issue will die.

    It’s a lesson some of those lifeless politicians along the road in our history could have and should have learned by now.

    That said, it might not be a bad idea for Republicans to grasp the concept of putting stuff you don’t want people to see behind a firewall. Unless, like the great CD controversy, we’re to be told they were “just testing.”

    As for the blogger, the issue that resonates with me (and apparently only me ) is the continuing evolution as bloggers as possible extensions of campaign. Maybe it’s true that the guy was acting on his own, but when he got the video, he didn’t put it up on his blog.

    He says he was doing research. On what? For whom? If it was for his Web site, one would think that he would post what he found. Or maybe he did and took it down. In which case, why?