I don’t normally write about Connecticut politics, but the charge by labor union boss Daniel Livingston caught my eye. In his letter to Connecticut’s attorney general, he’s suggesting Yankee Institute hacked into the state’s email system.
The letter – which was sent on Friday – in part states the Yankee Institute…
[obtained] access to the state email system by falsely claiming to be state employees and using assumed names, and utilizing that system and public resources in order to disseminate information which the Yankee Institute knew to be materially false and was intended to mislead public employees.
[provided] material assistance to small groups of employees in efforts to disrupt the democratic voting processes by which state employees could indicate their approval or disapproval of agreements concerning their wages, benefits, and working conditions which are relegated to collective bargaining under state law.
So Livingstone thinks a non-employee – specifically Zach Janowski from Yankee – got into the email system and sent out emails including either copies of information posted on the Yankee Institute’s website or links to the website? Is that what I’m reading?
Take the politics – whether or not you think the Yankee Institute provides good or bad info – out of the equation for one minute. If this is true, it’s a pretty serious charge.
That said, if emails were sent from an employee’s account to other states employees referencing Yankee Institute content, my guess is the employee(s) either signed up to get the information delivered to them automatically, or else they shared information using the state’s computer system on their own. This would not be a problem for Yankee, and I’m not sure if there is some rule forbidding state employees from doing so on their own.
Livingston should have provided detailed information about the hack in the letter to the attorney general. My guess is that he has none, especially since Fergus Cullen, executive director of the Yankee Institute for Public Policy called him out.
If the unions can’t provide any evidence to support their charges, they should withdraw them and apologize to the Yankee Institute before their credibility is further damaged. Without such evidence, the Attorney General has no basis for an investigation and he should say so immediately.
Not only that, Livingston should be hung out to dry if he’s making this up.
Brian Bolduc at National Review Online notes…
Cullen admits to being perplexed by the move. “They haven’t provided any evidence,” he says. “Somebody is out there emailing stuff around with links to our research and some of [investigative reporter] Zach [Janowski]’s articles but that doesn’t mean those are originating from us. I hear people have even been known to email stuff from National Review.”
I can confirm that Radio Vice Online has a few (more than 12 and less than 100) subscribers to our daily wrap-up email that may include what Daniel Livingston and other Connecticut Democrats might consider “materially false and misleading.”
[Update: Sorry, badly worded paragraph above. The number referenced above include subscribers with state email accounts. We’ve got quite a few more than 100 total subscribers. ;)]
We best watch out.
One more side note. Livingston claims…
The Yankee Institute is funded in part by, and connected to, such “think tanks” as the Heritage Foundation, and the Cato Institute and by billionaires such as the Koch brothers who are dedicated to the elimination of collective bargaining and the reduction or elimination of employment benefits for public employees.
Where can I apply for some Koch brother’s billions?
Why do union bosses like Livingston claim conservatives and libertarians want to eliminate all collective bargaining? That’s an outright lie. There is a difference between collective bargaining for salaries and bargaining for benefits that will be paid out decades from now and are completely and totally unsustainable.