(Office of Idaho Lt. Governor Press Release, August 26, 2021)
Boise, Idaho — After months of fighting to protect your data, the court has ruled that our office must release personal information on thousands of Idahoans to the media, where it has the potential to be misused to harass Idahoans who speak out on controversial issues.
Our office has always worked to act consistently with the law as written, including receiving advice and counsel from the Attorney General’s office regarding the available exemptions to shield Idahoans’ personal information from misuse.
Despite this initial collaboration, the AG’s office disavowed its earlier legal recommendations without explanation and washed its hands of the issue, apparently willing to abandon Idahoans to harassment and threats.
In response to this dereliction of duty by the AG’s office, I had no choice but to seek outside counsel to represent my office. It is the responsibility of the AG’s office to provide sound legal advice — not to misdirect state officials and then to abandon their efforts. At minimum, such behavior gives the appearance of political maneuvering rather than a conscientious performance of duty. How can any duly elected official rely on the AG’s office under these conditions?
While we disagree with the court’s interpretation, the fact remains that, based on this ruling, Idahoans are now at risk. It is necessary for the legislature to act in order to definitively establish and clarify the right of Idahoans to communicate with their elected officials without having their personal information turned over to the media for misuse.
History shows that the media today often acts as a chilling force to intimidate and silence those who think and speak outside of the approved borders of public opinion. It is for this reason that Idaho must take legislative action to shield the personal data of Idahoans when they are communicating with their elected officials.