Employee was ordered to check on Joe the Plumber

Columbus Dispatch:

Vanessa Niekamp said that when was asked to run a child-support check on Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher on Oct. 16, she thought it routine. A supervisor told her the man had contacted the state agency about his case.

Niekamp didn't know she just had checked on "Joe the Plumber," who was elevated the night before to presidential politics prominence as Republican John McCain's example in a debate of an average American.

The senior manager would not learn about "Joe" for another week, when she said her boss informed her and directed her to write an e-mail stating her computer check was a legitimate inquiry.

The reason Niekamp said she was given for checking if there was a child-support case on Wurzelbacher does not match the reason given by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Director Helen Jones-Kelley said her agency checks people who are "thrust into the public spotlight," amid suggestions they may have come into money, to see if they owe support or are receiving undeserved public assistance.

Niekamp told The Dispatch she is unfamiliar with the practice of checking on the newly famous. "I've never done that before, I don't know of anybody in my office who does that and I don't remember anyone ever doing that," she said today.

...

About 3 p.m. on Oct. 16, Niekamp said Carrie Brown, assistant deputy director for child support, asked her to run Wurzelbacher through the computer. Citing privacy laws, Niekamp would not say what, if anything, was found on "Joe."

On Oct. 23, Niekamp said Doug Thompson, deputy director for child support, told her she had checked on "Joe the Plumber." Thompson "literally demanded" that she write an e-mail to the agency's chief privacy officer stating she checked the case for child-support purposes, she said.

Thompson told her that Jones-Kelley said Wurzelbacher might buy a plumbing business and could owe support. Thompson said he replied that he "would check him out."

Niekamp, 38, a senior child-support manager, said she never heard any discussion of politics amid what her supervisors told her about the checks on Wurzelbacher.

Worried about her $69,000-a-year job and potential criminal charges, the 15-year state employee said she went to Inspector General Thomas P. Charles on Oct. 24. She has seen employees fired, and dismissed one herself, for illegally accessing personal information in support cases. Niekamp, a registered Republican, said politics played no role in what she told investigators.

The e-mail that Niekamp said she wrote was not among records provided today to The Dispatch in response to a public-records request. Nor did the agency, as required by state law, say it withheld any records.

Strickland spokesman Dailey later said one e-mail was withheld from The Dispatch because its release is prohibited by federal or state law. He did not explain under what specific law the e-mail was withheld.

The Columbus Dispatch continues to diligently pursue this story which appears to be embarrassing for Obama supporters in state government. It seems apparent that they were using state resources including state employees in order to try to find something embarrassing about Joe the Plumber. It appears that there is at least one paper that is doing the kind of digging that most have avoided when it comes to the Obama/media campaign.

Comments

  1. If Senator Obama wins this election, the following is what it has taken to get a very questionable, extremely inexperienced, very junior first time Senator past the mark:

    1. Senator Obama’s campaign is outspending the Senator McCain’s campaign 4 to 1 or more in some locations. This is due to Senator Obama backing out of an agreement he made with Senator McCain.
    2. Senator Obama’s campaign has opened up about 700 offices nation-wide versus less than 100 than Senator McCain’s campaign has opened up.
    3. The mainstream media has been completely biased against Senator McCain.
    4. Biased organizations, such as ACORN, have received contributions from Senator Obama, have been openly supporting Senator Obama, and are under investigation for committing voter registration fraud in multiple states favoring Senator Obama.
    5 An enormous number of biased celebrities have been supporting Senator Obama and speaking out against Senator McCain.
    6. Even though Congress is very unpopular, both sides are controlled by the democrats and have been making biased statements against Senator McCain.
    7. Senator McCain is disadvantaged because of the unpopularity of the incumbent President.
    8. All four of the debate moderators lean to the left and were not 100% fair.

    Even with all of the biased and unfair things mentioned above that are running against Senator McCain, Senator Obama only has a narrow lead. Should he not be way out in front? I have heard people state that on the news from both campaigns. That should tell you something. Also, Senator Obama pulled a cheap shot on Senator McCain and the American public in regards to campaign financing. Both campaigns agreed to use public financing during the presidential campaign. At the last moment, Senator Obama backed out of his agreement and took private financing, giving Senator Obama a significant advantage over Senator McCain in financing his campaign. In addition, Senator Obama is not being totally open as to where all his contributions are coming from. But even though Senator Obama took a sucker punch and tricked Senator McCain and all Americans by backing out of his agreement, Senator McCain is keeping with his word and using public financing. This is severely disadvantaging Senator McCain’s campaign financing by putting much lower caps on the amount of money he will have available. This is the reason Senator Obama can outspend Senator McCain 4 to 1. This also shows that Senator Obama does not keep his campaign promises, just like his past campaign promises.

    Just imagine what it will be like when you have both the House of Representatives and the Senate controlled by the democrats, and Senator Obama in the Whitehouse signing everything that comes across his desk from them. In other words, the person writing the check will also be the one cashing it. There will be no “checks and balances”, especially if the democrats pick up a few more seats in the Senate and it becomes filibuster-proof, which means they will have a monopoly. Again, there will be no checks and balances. We will have higher taxes, more government, and fewer rights. They have already promised all of those things. You will have a government that will tax the people that are creating the jobs so they can “spread the wealth around”. Who do you think creates the jobs in this country? Have you ever seen a business owned by a poor person? Are they the ones starting small businesses and creating jobs? Obviously not! So we have established the fact that the people that own the small businesses and create the jobs are NOT the poor. So lets talk about what is going to happen when they start taxing the people that do own the small businesses that create the jobs.

    So what do you think will happen when they start taxing the small business owners? First, jobs will be lost. They will not be able to afford to keep the same amount of people they have now – they will have to let people go. In addition, they will not be able to expand their businesses and hire more people. The second thing that will happen is that prices will go up. Do you think businesses will not raise the cost of their products and services to offset the extra taxes they have to pay? This should be obvious. The prices will go up on everything and will affect everybody – to include the middle class and the poor. When you go to the grocery store, the food prices will be higher. When you go buy a car, the prices will be higher. When you go to the department store the prices are going to be higher. Put yourself in the shoes of a business owner; if your expenses go up, would you not raise the price of your products to pay for them? Of course you would! And taxes are an expense.

    Now lets talk about presidential qualifications. When a federal employee or a member of the military has a need to have access to classified materials, they would need to get a security clearance. A security clearance attempts to certify that an individual is of high moral character and does not pose a security risk. If a federal employee or a member of the military admits to using a dangerous drug, such as cocaine, they will not be eligible for a security clearance. In addition, an admitted cocaine user would not be able to get in the military and if he or she is a federal employee, he or she would be moved to a position of lesser responsibility and not have access to classified materials. Senator Obama has admitted to using cocaine in his book that he wrote. As a candidate for president, should he not be held up to the same standards of a federal employee or a member of our military? As President, he is going to be exposed to an enormous amount of classified materials, have his finger on the nuke button, and be the commander in chief of the strongest military in the world. Would you not want someone in that position that can qualify for a security clearance?

    Another point I would like to make is in regards to Senator Obama’s experience, which is a drop in the bucket compared to Senator McCain’s. With the world and the economy in such a delicate position, I cannot imagine why anyone would not want the most experienced person in the Whitehouse. Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, and even Senator Obama’s running mate, Senator Joe Biden, have made statements to the fact that Senator Obama is not experienced enough to be President and that the presidency is not the type of job for on-the-job training. They also said that Senator McCain brings a lifetime of experience to the table. Senator Obama’s running mate, Senator Biden, even said he would even be honored to run “with” his friend John McCain. These individuals are now claiming that they said that during the primaries when they were running against Senator Obama. Does that mean they were lying then, or now? Senator Obama claimed that he had more diverse foreign policy experience because he lived overseas as a kid. Living overseas does not give you foreign policy experience, unless you are an Ambassador, which he was not. If it did, then Senator John McCain would again best Senator Obama’s record since he has lived overseas being a member of the military.

    What issue or issues are you going to base your voting decision on? Will it be the economy? National defense? Education? There are so many out there. Because of the current economic situation, a large number of you are going to base your decision on who is best for the economy. I would hope that I have answered this question for you earlier on in this article. Such as pointing out which candidate has promised to raise taxes and spend more reducing jobs and raising the cost to live. But just in case I have not, I have a couple additional items for you to think about. If you look at all of the campaign promises on Senator Obama’s web site, you will see hundreds of them. How is he going to pay for them? I think I answered that already. But, if you add of the costs of all of them, mathematically it is going to cost us a lot more than he will be able to raise in taxes. So many of these are going to be just like so many of his previous campaign promises – they won’t get done. Maybe the economy is not the best issue to use in making a decision for president. What about national defense? In my opinion, if you don’t have a secure nation, the rest of the issues are moot. With Russia and China outspending us two fold to build up their military; with Iran and North Korea toying around with nukes and making threats; with Russia making friends and conducting military exercises not too far from our back door in Venezuela; with Russia helping Iran build nuclear processing material plants; and with the terrorist threat growing in Pakistan (a nuclear country), Afghanistan, Africa, and several other countries throughout the world, I want the most experienced and tested person in that office. Not some junior Senator that has absolutely no experience in national security. The economy is important, but national defense is a must. Remember, if our country is not secure, then the economy means nothing, our freedom is in jeopardy, and our lives as we know them today could easily be drastically changed in a moments notice. Just ask the citizens of the country of Georgia. One last point: Have you see who is openly supporting Senator Obama in the news? Iran and the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah have made public statements that they would prefer Sen. Obama to win. Go figure.

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