Sunday, May 24, 2015

Did Representative Mitchell Setzer Share My Email With Another Constituent?

I submitted the following letter to the editor to the Hickory Daily Record several weeks ago. They have yet to print it, so I have resubmitted it and am publishing it here as well.

I want to thank Cliff Moone for his op-ed (HDR 4/28) defending my position (HDR 4/21) on the "Second Amendment Preservation Act" introduced in the General Assembly by Reps. Mitchell Setzer and Jay Adams. Until I read Mr. Moone’s piece, I was not aware of Gregory Ream’s letter (HDR 4/23) criticizing mine.

Ignoring Mr. Ream’s peculiar understanding of the English language and support for a legal theory that has been repeatedly rejected by both state and federal courts since the Eighteenth Century, what struck me most about his letter was how it raised several points that were not actually included in my letter. For example, Mr. Ream says that I claimed “an NRA board member also opposes such legislation” and that the unconstitutional nature of the bill was so clear that an “eighth grade civics student should be able to understand it.” Neither of these points were raised in my letter.

I did make these points, but I made them in a personal email that I sent to Rep. Setzer. There are basically two ways that Mr. Ream could have received this information. Either someone hacked our email, or Rep. Setzer - or someone on his staff - shared the email with Mr. Ream or with someone else who shared it with Mr. Ream. I have contacted Rep. Setzer and the support staff about this possible breach in their email security, but I have not received a reply yet.

I have worked in the computer software industry for over twenty years, so I have no illusions about any of my unencrypted email being private or confidential. However, short of hacking or government surveillance, I think most constituents reasonably expect that email they send to their legislator remains confidential. At the very least we certainly don’t expect that our legislators are sharing email we send to them with other constituents. Hopefully Rep. Setzer will clarify what happened here and reassure the public about his handling of constituent email. Until then, I encourage others to ask him about this issue.
NC Representative Mitchell Setzer