...involves County Commissioner Deb Roschen, former county board member Merl Norman, Rep. Steve Drazkowski and others.
News release from a St. Paul attorney:
For Immediate Release
September 12, 2013
Source: Erick Kaardal
Facsimile: 612/341-1076 Writer’s E-Mail: Kaardal@mklaw.com
Mohrman & Kaardal, P.A.
St. Paul, MN - This morning eighteen current and former Minnesota citizens filed a federal lawsuit in the United States District Court District of Minnesota. The allegations assert that several county, state, and city governmental departments and officials targeted the citizens for their political activities violating their right to privacy and protections afforded to them under the federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) and state common law claims for invasion of privacy. Money damages could exceed hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The plaintiffs’ protected private driver’s license records were illegally targeted at least 600 times since April 18, 2003. These illegal accesses have been constant and targeted against a citizen group, including elected officials who politically participated together in Wabasha County government. It is the belief of the plaintiffs that the government defendants were illegally accessing the legally protected records of group members to see if they could be a criminal or political target by exposing information such as driving violations, suspended license, expired car license tabs, warrant for arrest, etc. In each instance, in the act of doing so, the defendants violated the plaintiffs’ legally-protected privacy, by obtaining and using the protected individual data contained in the driver’s record.
The government employees illegally and repeatedly obtained and used data that included the dates of birth, driver’s license numbers, addresses, driver’s license photos, weights, heights, social security numbers, various health and disability information, and organ donor instructions of each plaintiff.
State Representative Steve Drazkowski, also a plaintiff, was stunned by the targeted activities: “Government’s abuse of the private personal data of citizens engaged in participation in their own government is stunning. It is the role of government to carry out the law, not to violate the law. They even went after the private data of my wife and my daughter – why? These flagrant violations of law by the people we entrust with it, are an abusive exercise of power.”
Deb Roschen, a Wabasha County Commissioner, and member of the targeted group, stated that, “these people violated my trust in government, my feeling of safety, and my family’s security.
Why are they pouring over data about my daughter and my husband? Who is holding these people accountable?”
The Plaintiffs obtained the Driver’s license access audit trail information from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety and Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. The data shows violations of federal law and their protected rights occurring as a result of their political activities, including, but not limited to the following instances:
1) On multiple dates on which announcements of candidacy for elected office were printed in the newspapers.
2) On the dates of, dates directly preceding, and dates directly after multiple general elections and a special election.
3) On the day that letters to the editor critical of the government were printed in the newspaper.
4) On dates immediately following county board meetings where group members challenged the position of the government officials in positions of authority.
5) On dates directly following dates when group members requested data from the government.
6) On dates when group members attended government meetings.
Federal law 18 U.S.C. 2721 (b) (1) allows for a minimum of $2,500 for each violation of the DPPA. The law establishes that obtaining an individual’s private data without a legitimate purpose constitutes an illegal search under the meaning of the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Questions about the lawsuit or the violations can be directed to Erick Kaardal, the attorney for the Minnesota citizen group. He can be reached at 612-465-0927 or firstname.lastname@example.org.