Thursday, January 28, 2010

Columnist: Andy McKenna campaign swipes Notre Dame alumni data

Among the many achievements of legendary football Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne was pioneering the use of a shift formation in the backfield of his Fighting Irish teams.

From shift to shifty, courtesy of Gary Caruso (Notre Dame '73), writing for The Observer, an independent paper serving Notre Dame and St. Mary's College.

The publication of this column specifically on this Friday was set merely by chance since it was scheduled by an editor at The Observer, in part, as a small component on a master semester schedule for all columnists. It is the first of my long-standing Friday columns which just so happens to coincide on the weekend before Notre Dame alumnus and Illinois Republican Gubernatorial candidate Andy McKenna's primary election next Tuesday. So while the timing of this column may appear calculated, it is the first regularly scheduled opportunity to convey an experience that began while The Observer was on hiatus.

Direct e-mail solicitations on behalf of the McKenna/Murphy candidates began several months ago from a Notre Dame classmate of McKenna. Last fall, I mysteriously received "McKenna for Illinois" solicitations as part of their e-mail list server. To my astonishment, the campaign was using an e-mail address listed only with the Notre Dame Alumni Association … and only temporarily for two weeks while moving.

The campaign began with an innocent "fellow classmate" endorsement announcing that McKenna had become a candidate and noted reasons why classmates should provide support to him. For months now, I have been bombarded with e-mails asking for donations, reporting on McKenna's plans and surges in the polls. I've been wished a "Happy New Years" (sic) — hopefully referring to both the primary and elections cycles as "years" rather than what I suspect is simply a sloppy misspelling. I also was made aware of newspaper endorsements and was even asked to participate in the Illinois Republican primary's early voting process a few Mondays ago, although I do not believe that as a Democrat, I can participate in their party's voting process. But then again, it is Illinois.


Last Friday, at University President Fr. John Jenkins' Washington, D.C., reception following the Right to Life March, I sat at length discussing the e-mail data breach with several University officials including those from our alumni association office. They emphasized their guiding principle of neutrality and privacy protections with all proprietary data collected from alumni. They further clarified the University's policy to me and acknowledged that they are well aware of how McKenna supporters maneuvered around the firewall limitations. I left our discussion with the impression that the breach's loophole had been closed once and for all.

To continue with the football analogy, McKenna's people "intercepted" some data, Caruso says.

It's time to throw another penalty flag at McKenna.

From Pollgate to an uninvited tailgate party. Anything can happen in Illinois politics, even in Indiana.

Related posts:

ABC 7 Chicago reports on Andy McKenna's Pollgate
Pollgate: Did McKenna answer questions of ethics panel?
Ill. guv race: McKenna continues to dodge Pollgate questions
Ill guv race: Andy McKenna still ducking on Pollgate
Videos: Chicago TV stations cover McKenna's Pollgate
Video: McKenna supporter Tom Cross sidesteps Pollgate questions
Ill. gov race: Greg Hinz on "Me"Kenna's debate duck
Pollgate update: Andy "Me"Kenna ducking debates
Pollgate: McKenna "compounded one ethical misstep with another"
Ill gov race: Joe Birkett on Andy McKenna's deception
Marathon Pundit endorses Jim Ryan for Illinois governor

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