Making sense of the Coleman website fail

Making sense of the Coleman website fail

It's been interesting watching the media coverage of the Norm Coleman credit card leak. The Star Tribune took the route of least resistance, deferring to the campaign's claim that some kind of computer hacking put his donors at risk. The Pioneer Press did better, contacting outside sources and offering a nuaced perspective that suggested the Coleman campaign was guilty of extreme sloppiness. Our own Bradley Campbell has lead the way on whether it's a criminal offense to store this kind of credit card information. But credit where credit is due: local blogger Adria Richards discovered the open database in January and it was further reported by Minnesota Independent. MnIndy and The Hill reported on the wikileaks announcement Wednesday morning.

Let's summarize the facts as they are known, with an eye toward separating the bullshit when it comes to technology:

  • The Coleman campaign stored credit card information online in a way that would be illegal if it were a business.
  • This information was accessed by an outside party due to an error on the part of the Coleman campaign's web team.
  • Faced with this information, Team Coleman stayed mum for weeks, during which their contributors were vulnerable to identity theft.
  • It gets posted on Wikileaks, becomes a national story, and now the Coleman campaign is outraged and sends an email warning people to cancel their credit cards.
  • Let's put aside the issue of "was it or wasn't it hacked" (it wasn't). Why didn't you warn your contributors to cancel their credit cards back when this story first broke? The Strib has a response from Team Coleman, and it boils down to Extreme Cowardice and Greed: 

    Norm Coleman campaign officials didn't notify contributors after their database was briefly opened in January because no significant information had been downloaded and they didn't want to unnecessarily chill fundraising efforts, a Coleman lawyer said Thursday.

    So he put self-interest above the well-being of his contributors, many of whom are constituents. Doesn't that tell us all we need to know about whether we want him as our senator?

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