Blackwell seeks more legal costs in SS lawsuit
The Ohio Controlling Board gave Secretary of State Ken Blackwell the OK today to spend another $38,000 on legal fees related to a federal class-action lawsuit filed in March against his office for posting business records on the Internet that contained Social Security numbers.
On May 22, the Controlling Board approved an initial $40,000 in legal fees for Chester, Willcox & Saxbe.
Blackwell settled the lawsuit, agreeing to remove Social Security numbers from business records, but Cincinnati attorney Christian Jenkins, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of a truck driver from Brown County, has said there was an ongoing disagreement over legal fees.
State Sen. Ray Miller, a Columbus Democrat, voted against today's request, which was approved by a majority vote of state legislators on the controlling board.
“We shouldn’t be throwing money at Secretary Blackwell for a legal defense that is indefensible,” Miller said. “Secretary Blackwell created this problem when he failed to use common sense and failed to heed the concerns brought forth by taxpayers and state leaders about exposing the raw personal data. He didn’t and hasn’t rectified the situation, yet he still continues to collect tens of thousands of dollars from taxpayers for the problem.”
James Lee, a spokesman for Blackwell's office, said Social Security numbers have been removed from all new filings and any individual who asked that their numbers be removed.
Lee said that within 10 days, new computer software would be applied to all existing records to remove the tens of thousands of numbers still accessible from the Internet.
In other action today, the Controlling Board approved a request from Miami University to spend $20,000 in its defense of providing domestic partner benefits in a lawsuit filed by state Rep. Tom Brinkman, a Republican from Mount Lookout.